Social Justice is getting a bad name. I am more and more frequently hearing people use the words “social justice” in a negative or misconstrued connotation. It just happened again on The O’reilly Factor this week (0:20-0:40 secs):
Bill O’reilly (a Catholic himself) says, “Left wing zealots don’t want any limits on spending - they want Social Justice. That means they want big money given to less affluent Americans through a variety of programs.” And of course here he is speaking in terms of government spending and government programs. Such a limited (and perhaps entirely wrong) understanding of social justice is not an anomaly. I have seen this repeatedly in a variety of places and from numerous people in recent months.
Of course, I partially blame those people like Bill O’reilly who perpetuate this misunderstanding of the Social Justice cause. But most of the blame lies elsewhere. The truth is that his description of Social Justice here isn’t really off the mark at all for the people he is referring to. The Social Justice cause has been hijacked - in America and even partially within our Catholic Church.
Many on the political left have reduced “Social Justice” to being synonymous with the coerced redistribution of wealth. They genuinely believe that the only way to achieve social justice is for the state to force people to be charitable. But such action is rarely just and it is never charitable. In fact, it destroys charity because it destroys the freedom required for charity to exist in the first place.
It is all too obvious that instead of using politics to bring about social justice. They are abusing Social Justice to bring about their politics. And in the process they do a great disservice to both.
Jesus asks over and over again for us to give freely of ourselves. I can’t recall once where he asks us to take from one and give to another. Social Justice is so much more than that. Please stop giving it a bad name.
Matthew Warner is a lover of God, his wife, his kids, his life, cookies, hot-buttered bread, snoozin’ & awkward (as well as not awkward) silence.