Saturday, July 24

Doing Charity or Doing Justice?


Social media is what holds so many of the threads of today's world together. Unfortunately, most marginalized people don't have the kind of access to social media and other forms of virtual connection that mainstream people depend on to get so many things done. They use it to find relationships and jobs. They use it to find and spread information to people in lieu of "word of mouth" to people they may never meet in person. They use it to organize into groups to speak their minds and express opinions so they can make changes happen. It all works, and the world is a completely different place because of it.

Then you look at marginalized groups--people in poverty, people with mental and physical disabilities, people who are dealing with addiction, and people who are incarcerated or trying to reintegrate into their communities. How do they find people who are like them? How do they connect with others to organize and express opinions? How do they make change that will help the world make room for them to be as full, contributing members of society? So often they have opinions that go unheard and unheeded.

They depend on charity to recognize their needs, which often happens but only addresses the things that are easily given or changed without taking anything away from anyone else. As long as those in charge can STAY in charge, they can get all the charity available. But I saw this quote on Facebook yesterday, and it rang true. Mary Wollstonecraft said, "It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world."

Until marginalized people can have the opportunities that mainstream society have, we are only doing charity. That is a start, but we must move forward to doing justice to see lasting change that includes everyone.

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