As ‘social justice’ I am NOT defining it as a progressive. I would moreso define it as being kind to one’s neighbor, helping one’s neighbor (singularly or on a larger scale).
The reason I ask is because a recent post made by someone in a thread I started has gotten me thinking. The thread was about ‘giving people a second chance’ and how once someone has a criminal record it’s hard for them to get employment, etc.
A lot of people responded by pointing out the laws around hiring practices (which made perfect sense), and the risks and potential liability of hiring an ex con should that person do harm to another employee or customer. Again, I understand this. The post that stuck out to me, and I have been thinking quite a lot about since I have read it was something to the effect of:
So, if your son, who got out of jail and was trying to straighten up their life came to you and said “Dad, I’m trying to put my life together, can you help me out and give me a job?” or words to that effect/general jist of the post.
This got me thinking how I at least treat my own family differently than I treat my neighbors, in particular if they are strangers to me. Now I think of myself as a good person, and I assume that most posters here think of themselves as good people as well. But that particular post spoke to me. It pointed out how I (and I assume we) are more willing to help our family and give our family chances, etc than we are our neighbors (in the sense that Jesus meant it).
It leaves me to wonder if there is a block of some sort, a wall of some sort I put up when dealing with ‘our neighbors’ and if this wall impacts the way we intervene to help them.
Now I am formerly homeless. I have a lot of childhood trauma that still impacts me. And I work with the mentally ill (I am mentally ill myself in that I have a major mental illness diagnosis) so think of myself as someone who is accustomed to being around those ‘less fortunate’ and potentially being much more aware than the average person what their lives are like, what kind of struggles they face, etc. I believe I do a very good job at my JOB, and am invested in this type of work. But doing my job is not charity. And I’m not sure to what extent it is working towards ‘social justice’ since it is me performing my ‘job’.
So I wonder if I put up a wall (I know certain others do as I see it regularly in obvious ways) when dealing with (or rather trying NOT to deal with) the homeless, etc. But I myself, when driving home from work and see the guys coming with their cup will sometimes avoid eye contact myself. I think this is terrible for me to do given my past. I sometimes interact with them by saying hi and explaining I’m not in a position to help financially (which I really am not, I’m behind on rent, car insurance, car note, etc). I donate to my Church but that’s all I do as far as money goes. I wonder, and will have to try out, speaking more with these guys. They may be more interested in walking by more cars to have a greater chance to get more money. But I have to TRY before I can be sure.
FYI, the ‘telltale sign’ of someone being homeless is someone carrying a backpack. They have no where to store their clothes or basic belongings so all carry backpacks. If they don’t look middle class or above like they are sporting brand new clothes coming from the gym and they are carrying a backpack, good chance they are homeless.
Anyway, is it an attitude of indifference? I don’t think that is the case for me. Is it that seeing the homeless brings back negative memories for me? Sometimes. Is it feeling awkward in telling them that I (honestly) can’t spare 50cents? I think this is partly true but no excuse for me not to say hi and attempt to engage them in conversation, say God bless you, etc.
And when I had more money, a 2nd job and disposable income I was not attending Church and was not donating to any charities either. I still did ‘my job’ but don’t consider this as counting as I have said. So what was it then that got in the way of me helping my neighbor? I think, for myself, I was not raised in a house where this was customary, expected, and taught. When homeless I remember one family (2 parents and 2 teen kids) coming in on Christmas day to serve lunch/dinner to the homeless. This family was obviously instilling in their children the spirit of giving, of helping one’s neighbor. Why didn’t I help more then? I can use the excuse I wasn’t connected to the Church, but I always believed in God and Jesus and the teachings of Jesus, so that is not a valid reason/excuse for me.
Did I not care? I don’t think that’s the case as I spent quite a bit of time debating/attempting to educate people on how government entitlement programs (IMO) do NOT help and create and sustain a system of dependency. So I did invest time in trying to educate others as to what I felt were the wrong ways to help, and advocating what I thought the correct ways were (attaching help be in financial, housing, whatever- to the requirement that the recipients in some way put forth effort to help themselves- and ideally and depending on how much help they are getting and what their capabilities are- requiring them to help another or do community service.
So I cared, but I didn’t peel money out of my pocket and either give directly or donate to charity. And I am not sure why. I would be interested in hearing mostly ideas as to why others think I didn’t do more to help when I was in the position to (I never had much money but could afford to go out and eat, had all my bills paid, had money in my pocket at all times, didn’t worry about my bills, was saving toward retirement).
If you have thoughts or stories in general as to why people don’t help more please share, or personal stories or thoughts personally. But mostly I’m interested in learning for myself, to make myself a better follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.