End of Week Social Justice Reflection

Posted by Roger / on 03/11/2011 / 0 Comments

Hi everyone:

I'm going to try to a new routine, which is to email you a short note at the end of each week. I find that as the seminars progress over the week, my ideas transform. Plus different things come out of different seminars, and I thought it would be interesting to exchange thoughts.  This is a blog, so I hope you will all comment so others can see what's on your mind.

First, I seriously regret not talking more about what's happening in my home state, Wisconsin.  This is huge--not because mild-mannered Midwesterners are causin' a rucus in the state capitol.  No, it's because a broad coalition of people are standing up to something historic.  Sure, unions have problems.  But so do government and private sector employers/employees.  To me, the social justice exclamation from Wisconsin is that people have a right to recognition as a group; that we are not simply atomistic individuals competing against one another.  Rather, a just society requires a commons, where we all equally own and share the some of the fruits of society (clean air?  water?  accountable government?).  When we erode a sense of accountability to each other, we invite crime, greed, a toxic environment, poor health, homelessness and hunger.  Unions are just one way to encourage a sense of the commons.  True social justice in my view can only complement individualism so much.  Instead, it must erode the rampant individualism which leaves unaccountable to each other.

This week in seminar I had wanted to use the ACT-UP article to generate some discussion about tactics.  I wish we had more time and that is why I've asked you to consider a movie night next week so we can deepen discussion.  Once you've made your social justice claim about an issue--staking a claim about what is not right, then expressed a vision of how the world should be to make it right, then began to organize with others a general strategy, it's time to talk tactics: what are the actual steps and moves we'll make.  I had wanted to debate this more and work through a series of questions about how to decide how to move forward.  I'm certain ACT-UP did this before their protest at St. Patrick's church.  Clearly it didn't work well for some of the public.  And that, too, is a lesson in social justice work.

There was a lot of discussion about the Catholic Church this week too.  Religion is touchy.  I've come to be more critical and more accepting of religion all at once, as I've seen more nuance in the practice of religion.  The Catholic Church, in particular, has a long, sordid history--but that does not make it unique.  Jihad is not a new concept, and Jews use the Torah to justify violence against Palestinians (I know this from familial experience).  The Catholic Church has been a leading voice in favor of cancelling the crippling debt of poor countries; it has provided service in the form of aid on spiritual support to oppressed peoples.  The Church has also denied millions access to condoms and abortion, also touchy subjects.  You'll have to decide if there is a social justice claim to be made on those issues.  But finally, the Catholic Church is many things to many people.  I'll never forget the impoverished communities in Mexico I visited where pre-Columbian spirits had morphed into Catholic saints and some of the most oppressed people of the hemisphere found a theology of liberation--that Jesus was a model for raising up the poor.

Please respond to the Doodle poll about the movie next week:  https://www.doodle.com/6iezg24zhe4dkfat

You need to be caught up on journals, and do the work for next week before seminar (it's on the website).

Please comment on the blog post!!

Mr. Grande


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