Why Social Justice Is Popular in the West Today:
1. We all long for a better place in this broken world.
2. The world’s problems are no longer hidden from our view.
3. Our wealth has not brought us satisfaction.
4. We want to play a part in the global village.
5. We think we have the answers to the worlds problems.
Why Our Efforts are Severely Misguided:
1. We have an incorrect definition of poverty.
2. Assisting others feeds our own ego.
3. Helping the less fortunate feeds our “God-complex”. “I’m here to save you. I have the answers to your problems.”
4. We think we can “quick fix” the worlds problems through championing catch all statistics with financial commitments. (As if lack of money is the only real hurdle)
5. We look down upon the poor as inferior. We have stripped from them their voice, dignity, and worth.
6. Our answers are more in the form of quick handouts and relief work, rather than an investment in relationships over time with genuine holistic programs to implement change.
7. We view these problem one sided. It’s a spiritual or material issue. Give them your religion or give them your money. We don’t see the complexity of their issue.
A lot of the thoughts I have are not mine at all. They are ideas from other people that I put my own spin on. This post is no exception. The two columns above are from Luke Parrott’s blog. Most of the things he writes about are also things that I think about. So when I saw his post, I knew I wanted to write about the same thing because it’s a big deal.
Organizations like Toms and campaigns like (red) and One are awesome and for sure they have their place in the social justice world but they cannot be the only front or even the main front. They do their jobs well enough (to get people excited about helping others and to aid with big picture problems) but they also create a false sense of finality. For example, people, perhaps more subcontiously than contiously, think that once they’ve bought a pair of Toms that they’ve “done their part” in helping others.
Big organizations and campaigns like these have a way of stripping away the dignity of the people they’re serving. It’s hard to see the people behind the problem. They seem somehow below us when we’re helping from so far away.
We think we can quick-fix the worlds problems. We take away the complexities of the issues. We want to donate a million pairs of crocs to kids in Rwanda but what we don’t realize is that that would more detrimental than helpful. What would that mean for the local economy? The street venders who sell shoes? What will happen when the shoes are gone and the kids no longer have callous’ on their feet and cannot walk the same paths they could before without hurting themselves? The point is that there are things that need to be thought through. Social justice is a complex thing.
There are a lot of problems in this world that need to be solved but more importantly there are a lot of people who need someone to care about them. Perhaps the most effective thing to do is to go, as followers of Jesus, to these different communities around the world and simply live and share life with the people there. Serve them, find out about their lives, be their friend, see them as human beings, love them unconditionally.
If the big social justice problems of this world are going to be solved, it’s going to happen with a holistic approach. One that cares just as much about the people affected by the problem as it does about eradicating the problem. It’s got to be about the people. Not the problem. Not us.
The answer the world’s problems is Jesus. I believe that wholeheartedly. He came into our world to serve and as His followers we should figure out the best, most effective way to do the same.