Big Veda

In Hinduism, a Veda is a knowledge or truth writing. I don't pretend that this stuff is anything more than rumination. But through writing it I find a bit of knowledge or truth. Hope you find some truth too. PAX

9.11.05

Scales of Social Justice

"Most of the talk about Social Security is pretty fraudulent. Take the question of privatizing it. Social Security funds can be invested in the stock market whether the system is public or private. But putting people in charge of their own assets breaks down the solidarity that comes from doing something together, and diminishes the sense that people have any responsibility for each other. Social Security says, "Let's ensure that all of us have a minimal standard of living." That puts a bad idea into people's heads - that we can all work together, get involved in the democratic process and make our own decisions. Much better to create a world in which people behave individually and the powerful win."

Noam Chomsky
The Common Good (1996-98)

I wonder how giving programs in churches relate to this criticism? How does individualizing the benefits of giving rob the community of, as Chomsky puts it,"the solidarity that comes from doing something together"? I know that churches are collecting funds (and other resources) to better the community and to make a greater impact through the amassing of time, energy, and money. But how much do we emphasize the individual benefit of giving as opposed to the overall impact that giving makes on the giving-community?

I had the good fortune to be behind the establishment of a community food pantry/clothes closet/resource center that solicited donations from anyone generous enough to give. But the donation was never received without an invitation to participate, hands on, in our endeavor. Not many accepted our invitation but a few did and those few who came to embrace those in need were not able to pat themselves on the back for their own generosity. They saw that there is a synergy between those who have and those who are in need.

We need each other. Sometimes the scales of social justice become out of balance. One side of the scale is abundance and the other side is lack. We tend to consider the scales of social justice out of balance when there is tragedy and great need. What about when the scales become unbalanced by a windfall of great fortune? As a society we seem to be okay with that kind of imbalance. The wealthy need the poor to help them keep the scales of justice in balance. If this sounds like I may be promoting some form of socialism, maybe I am. I haven't thought that far ahead.

I am at a time of greater need than I have ever experienced. But I have also been in a situation of great abundance. I experienced anxiety then and now. When I had much I worried about losing it all. Now that I am in greater need, I worry about acquiring what I need. It is precisely the times that I have been in a community that has both need and abundance that I have found stasis, or balance. When I knew that giving was going to balance the scales of one in need, my scale tipped toward need and I had balance. When I didn't know where my daily bread would come from, I found that another gave and balanced my scale. Social justice is little different than civil justice. The scales of justice must work toward balance. And without the participation of the needy with the wealthy, someone's scales will be out of balance.

PAX

E

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