Something For Everyone To Hate: My Social Justice Proclamation!

I have been agonizing over whether to leave Social Media or not. The amount of hypocrisy, hatred, and lack of discourse turns my stomach. What should I do? Last night my wife and I watched the movie “Silence.” It is a Martin Scorsese film dealing with religious persecution of Christians in 1633 Japan. One reviewer described “Silence is about people in horrible conditions.” I keep drawing the connections between the dilemmas faced by those Catholic missionaries and the country they were in, with the current social media world. Andrew Garfield did an excellent job demonstrating the struggle of faith in a world in direct opposition to belief. I think I am there, at least as it comes to my world.

I teach in a college located in Portland, Oregon. I interact with diverse people which I am very thankful for, and who have helped me see many perspectives. But I really think it is time that I stand on my beliefs, especially in light of all the crazies out there, and maybe I am one too! I am sure this blog will have something for everyone to hate, and I will be happy to debate and discuss my points with anyone, I am ready to stand. I see hypocrisy all around me. The left is now expressing how it is on the high ground while it hates anyone from a conservative perspective. If you aren’t liberal then you are some negative adjective, fill in the blank here. The right is indignant and not willing to discuss issues facing women or people of color. I will stake out my ground in the middle because that is what I feel I need to do.

To express my beliefs I will use the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching. It is both rich and lacking, and also gives and excellent foundation as a place for me to stand on a soapbox.

The foundation of my social belief stems from my position as a Christian. I am not Christ-Centered, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I declare that openly and loudly. I believe in the fallen nature of man that can only be defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe there is only one way to be saved and that is by the reception of Jesus Christ into your life. I believe there is value in other religions, because God’s moral truth is written upon our hearts (Romans 2:15), but the Truth is clouded because we look through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). I believe there is one way, one Truth, and one life and that is Jesus, therefore only one way of salvation. I believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ and the judgment of the world for its sin. This is my worldview and focuses my perspective. I believe that I am to love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. Those are the two greatest commandments. OK, that is who I am, and now what is my social stance?

According to Catholic Social teaching there are seven themes of social justice. The first is life and dignity of the human person. “The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of moral vision for society.” I agree with this from an abortion, capital punishment, and war perspective. The many millions of babies killed by abortion is the number one human rights violation in this country. Anyone that adheres to a liberal agenda and minimizes this travesty needs to think about consistency. However, I also recognize we are not in a perfect social environment, so I understand a woman’s right to choose, but the choice to kill a human being should not be given to another human being. Just by calling something a fetus, does not remove heinousness of this choice. Abortion should only be available in an emergency. I also think that capital punishment is something we should not take lightly. It should only be used in a limited situation. I also think war is not a solution, and should only be done as a last resort.

Theme number two is the Call to Family, Community, and Participation. “Marriage and family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and duty to participate in society seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.” Theme number two is critical and those parts of our society where the family has broken down need to be supported. I also agree that we have the right to participate in society for the common good. The lack of civility in our social media environment is destroying our ability to seek common good. It is so easy to post any stupid thing on Facebook, but we need to be more responsible. I will talk more about the poor shortly.

Theme three is Rights and Responsibilities. “Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.” I don’t see anything here about if you agree with my perspective. Everyone, liberal or conservative, black, brown, or white, have this right. However, “corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities to one another, to our families, and the larger society.” I would change the order on this one. First, there needs to be an external reason, we have duties and responsibilities first and foremost to God. Then we go to family, one another, and then the greater society. This is where I really have a problem with the extreme left. This is where I see the greatest hypocrisy. The Marching Tornados from Talladega College (young African-American students), according to the BBC, received “intense backlash for playing at the inauguration.” However, the left has never recognized that a GoFundME page, used to help the band pay for its trip to Washington D.C. raised $650,000. According to the BBC “the extra money will go towards scholarships, new band uniforms, new instruments and a new practice space – the college only has 700 students, almost all of whom receive some type of financial aid. I don’t know if it was conservative or liberal people donated, but this is an excellent opportunity for these young people.

Theme four, is an Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. “A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the last judgment (MT 25: 31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.” I see this as the biggest area of difference between the Evangelical and Social elements within the Church. You notice I called it the Church! There is only one bride of Christ and that is the Church. It is made up of many different types of believers, but if we are Christians we are all following the same Jesus. So instead of fighting each other on this, lets talk. I know the Social side of the Church needs to emphasize salvation more, but I think the Evangelical side needs to care for the poor more.

Theme five involves the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation.” I really like this particular theme. I understand the excesses of capitalism, but socialism has its excesses too. So I see the right to own the means of production as critical to healthy economic opportunity, but I also see the responsibility of those owners to pay a respectful wage that will allow people dignity of work and a sense of accomplishment.

Theme six is about Solidarity. “We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, whatever they may be.” Therefore, get to know people. Talk to them. Find out what their experiences are. There are many people that are discouraged, come along side them and help them. I love working with students of color because it confronts many of the bootstrap ideas I once had. Even though I abhor socialism, I think we need strong social systems to help people to have dignity in their life. If that means paying a little more in taxes, so be it. People need to have affordable housing, and they need to have a path out of poverty. I also think young people who were brought here, and are undocumented, should have the ability to become citizens. I think this is the right thing to do.

The last theme, involves Care for God’s Creation. “We show our respect for the creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith.” I believe that global warming is occurring and it could be both cyclical and a result of human beings. However, as a business-person I believe that the sustainability of every company is based on how it deals with its people, planet, and resulting profit. If a company treats its employees well, those employees with treat the customer well. If the company treats the planet well by being respectful of the planet, we will all benefit, resulting in greater profit for the company. This doesn’t mean more regulation by the government; it means companies making the right choices.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there is something lacking. Maybe there are other Catholic writings that connect this, but I don’t see it here. I also see this as an area of deficiency in conversations I have had with many of my peers. They say they are into social justice, and I know they are, but there is no mention of a need for a person to be saved; a person to know Jesus Christ. There is a comment about being Christ-Centered, heaven forbid that we offend someone for telling them they need to be saved, but if we don’t then we are guilty of not sharing the whole gospel. Yes the gospel involves all of the above themes, but it also includes the good news of what Christ has done for us on the Cross. I will not apologize for saying this.

And that is my thought for the day!