Whether during times of profound upheaval, from health pandemics and shifting global economies, to ecological disasters due to human-assisted climate change and the creation of a larger gulf between the haves and have-notes, social justice is always a central issue. Social justice involves the individual, the communal, the religious, and the global systemic realities of how human beings engage righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. We must critically examine how our ecclesial, political, and other socio-cultural systems uphold the justice of a cause and come to discern and understand which group of persons are valued, and which group of people are perceived and treated as a commodity. Social justice requires our consideration for all matters that oppress, abuse, violate and destroy any of God's children, particularly those based on gender, class, race, sexual orientation, ability, and/or age. With the writings in Germania by Tacitus (98 CE) being transported to these shores by the pilgrims and puritans (see Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground), the spiritual plague of championing Anglo-Saxon superiority and the United States exceptionalism has stained every fiber of every organism, living or now dead in this country. Before the United States can right the wrongs of criminal, societal, systemic injustice--some yet embodied in the U.S. Constitution, we must learn what social justice is, Then, we unjust must atone for our own personal and/or communal oppressive participation (sometimes by doing nothing), and together lament and create new pathways, rules, and rituals that can move us from being the fear-based oppressors of the earth to embodying membership in the beloved community. Being afraid of and blaming the poor, or people of color, or any group of people for what one does not have solves nothing. Sadly, when many of the oppressed have launched movements to improve their conditions, dominant society's power mechanisms go into overdrive to set up yet another boulder to squelch progress, to decimate and exploit. Equally sad, sometimes the abusive nature of larger society can seep into oppressed communities so that oppression becomes internalized into those deemed other. Ultimately, things cannot and will not change until those who wield power (mostly elite, wealthy white males, and the women who dance to their drumming), come to understand their own fears; notably the fear of not having enough; the fear that they have persecuted people who may actually be superior to them in their gifts and graces. Because the earth belongs to God, the elite and defacto, those who yearn to be like them, do not need to fear the growth and accomplishments of those the elite have deemed other. God's world affords an abundance, wherein there is more than enough to go around.
- The Rev. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Ph.D, Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence at Seminary of the Southwest
Dr. Steven Tomlinson, Associate Professor of Leadership and Administration at Seminary of the Southwest, speaks with Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, on issues of social justice.
Repairers of the Breach is a group of organizers, faith leaders, and volunteers who are working to create a moral movement within politics which will speak to political issues not depending on whether they are liberal or conservative, but on whether through those policies people are treated with respect, dignity, and justice. They have a comprehensive plan for a moral agenda within American politics.