"The virtue that inclines one to co-operate with others in order to help make the institutions of society better serve the common good. While the obligation of social justice falls upon the individual, that person cannot fulfill the obligation alone, but must work in concert with others, through organized bodies, as a member of a group whose purpose is to identify the needs of society, and, by the use of appropriate means, to meet these needs locally, regionally, nationally, and even globally. Implicit in the virtue of social justice is an awareness that the world has entered on a new phase of social existence, with potential for great good or great harm vested in those who control the media and the structures of modern society. Christians, therefore, are expected to respond to the new obligations created by the extraordinary means of promoting the common good not only of small groups but literally of all humanity."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that social justice is ensured when society "provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to the nature and their vocation." (CCC 1928).
The Church goes on to emphasize that social justice, in order to be the real deal, must be rooted in the Dignity of the Human person and linked to the common good and to authority. She emphasizes that social justice can only be achieved when one respects the "transcendent dignity of man" (CCC 1929).
Social justice, for any well catechized Catholic, is something that cannot be relegated to something the other guy does. We are concerned with the dignity of human beings because we recognize our unique relationship to our Creator, to God the Father, and His profound love for us even when we fail to return that love. It is humbling to realize that God loves us even if we deny His existence. Being the recipient of that type of total and unconditional love can be overwhelming. It cannot help but spill out into our everyday lives. To express that love is something we need to do. It is written on our hearts, a part of our DNA.
People are moved by tragedy -- natural disasters or man made horror -- because of this Truth of our need to express the love of God. It bubbles up - tweets of 'thoughts and prayers' do not just happen in a vacuum - when the unexpected hits us because we just cannot help ourselves. We were born to love, to serve each other.
The challenge for me is to answer that call to service -- to HEAR the Voice and take an action. The tough part is to do it despite being told that it doesn't matter, that the action I take will not fix a problem or change a mind.
What I have learned is that seeds planted do grow, just not on my timeline. I watch people I never thought would consider Social Justice as anything other than something those damn commies talk about begin to awaken to this important aspect of our Faith. I listen to people begin to ask questions of themselves, to respond to the Voice that reminds them their work does not end when they walk into a voting booth or they are presented with a petition outside the grocery store. What is really awesome is when their minds begin to open and they start to realize that maybe, just maybe, those they have disagreed with in the past are trying THEIR best to live the Faith in a way that will help true social justice flourish. They may not be doing it in a manner I would choose, and they may even be causing the Angels to weep, but perhaps they are not the stupid demon ridden horror they are being described as by my opponents (or allies); rather, they are Catholics trying to do what is right in a world that has made that path increasingly difficult to locate.
I chose to join the political party The American Solidarity Party because I was not represented in a meaningful way by either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. That being said, I do not think that all those Catholics who are members of the two 'mainstream' parties are deliberately trying to ruin my country. I disagree with them, and I wish they would all turn and loudly renounce the parties to which they have pledged their loyalty no matter what, but I absolutely know they are doing the best they can to live the life Jesus asks of us.
I have seen the seeds I have planted since 2016 start to sprout. More and more people have reached out to me and asked me about the ASP. Some of them have actually registered as members, others have left the DNC and the GOP to register as Independents. There are tiny ripples in the pond.
As the political season heats up, I pray for my country. I pray that people stop going out of their way to hurt or demean each other, that they begin to practice true social justice by curbing their own anger and changing their speech. I pray that people start to realize that being a social justice warrior is not about wearing a mask and throwing a rock at the opposition.
I pray for our leaders and our would-be leaders. The need to promote the dignity of the human person should be the cornerstone of all our roads to justice for all.