Justice: Digging In

Justice shows up, finally, where we decide to dig in.  I rather think this last kind is a product of the first two.  1) I know because I am human.  2) I understand, eventually, because I struggle.  And then, with clarity born of the two, I decide that in this or that place, I must plant my foot, speak my voice, work with my hands, help with my heart.

This final dimension of the work of social justice is morally both personal and necessary.  The dignity of the human person means that our work in social justice must be a personal choice.  Choosing to dig into and engage in social justice work requires my own human experience and that includes the experience of my needs and my struggle to understand your needs.  I also find that any work I do in social justice is going to become a long term commitment if it includes my sphere of influence.  I may have a concern for housing issues, but if my health or physical abilities preclude me being outside on a challenging building site, I am very unlikely to be able to sustain a commitment to helping to build housing.  If I am a nurse and near the hospital where I work there is a community health clinic where I can invest some time in an issue that matters much to me, I am more likely to sustain that commitment.

Social justice is not some separate concern or a special kind of activity apart from our every day lives.  It very naturally arises out of who we are and our experiences of life. It challenges us in the face of another whose experience is new or unknown to us.  When we recognize these experiences, the work once someone else’s becomes our own.

Bob Patrick

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