I was raised in the 50’s and 60’s by parents who taught me the values that I still believe in today. I wish I could say that I have always lived by them, but being human, I have denied them many times. And when I did it caused problems for me down the road.
My parents were Christian and believed in the teachings of the church we attended every week. Those included working to make a living, being grateful for what you have, not envying other’s for what they have, and giving to the poor to mention a few. I heard the same things in school and the church too, along with the spiritual things that bring salvation.
In college I strayed a lot! I certainly drank a lot of beer. One night at a frat beer party the boys were singing a Dylan song about social justice. I asked another guy what that was, and he thought it dealt with racism which was a hot topic back then. I thought that was good as racism does no one any good. I graduated, went to work, and forgot about it!
Fast forward to today and I hear about social justice all the time. And now it has been expanded to equality of income and redistribution of wealth. I think the war on poverty that LBJ started may have had something to do with this mentality. I can understand why the secular progressives like this idea. More money for folks is a good and proven election strategy and it is working. Although most believe money doesn’t buy happiness, the idea of having more is so compelling that we forget that idea.
I used to go to AA meetings several years ago. Some of the common themes that came out were selfishness and control and how those things take over and impact lives when we don’t get what we want. The goal of AA is to help folks stop drinking or drugging, but the ultimate goal is serenity. Serenity makes life easier. It is also very Biblical (like all the 12 steps of AA) as peace is a primary theme of Jesus teachings and many Bible verses as well. “The peace which surpasses all human understanding”.
Part of social justice deals with helping the poor, which I agree with. There will always be poor people who because of physical and mental handicaps cannot provide for themselves. And some others that through circumstances they either created or didn’t create find themselves in need of help to provide for their families until they get back on their feet. My values I learned from my parents and their example support the idea of helping these people. I saw my parents do it many times giving clothes to poor people and holding off on collecting fuel bills when they knew the families were hurting. Then there is the next level up from that group of people. I think these folks are the ones that don’t quite “get it” and can’t figure out how to make a living. Maybe it is their upbringing and lack of parental examples like I had. Some just don’t want to do what they have to do to survive. I have less empathy for that group but think they can learn. I do a lot of volunteering in schools etc. to share experiences and hope so they can bring themselves out of their situation. Education is the key, not necessarily getting more education, but getting educated in how to make a living and become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is part of the key to happiness; it brings self-worth and lessens stress.
Then there are those who just work the system. No comment!
What confuses me now is that churches and synagogues have jumped on the social justice bandwagon too. They preach it and promote it although it is not consistent with Biblical values. Helping the poor is consistent, but I haven’t seen anything about income equality or fairness in the Bible. I have seen a lot about work, frugality, and giving to the poor, but never read anything about government taking from the rich and giving to the poor. I think they are doing this with good intentions, but leaving the core values out that bring peace only frustrates people and motivates them to more coveting of what others have. I also think that is a goal of secular progressives who don’t hold to Biblical values, that they like to stir the folks up to get votes and ultimate control of government.
I read an interesting report about poverty from my friend Steve Bakke. You can access it here: POVERTY His research into poverty is enlightening. While we get reports from others that the US has more than its share of poverty it is not true. Those in poverty in this country live much better than those in other countries. And more interesting is that low income is defined as a relative state, IE the world reporters list the bottom 10% of the income levels as being poor. With that definition there will always be poor people as this is a relative definition. Unless of course we redistribute income from high earners to low earners to reduce the variation which is the goal of the secular progressives.
Back to churches and teachings, I am concerned that they are promoting materialism above peace when they preach social justice. Why contribute to greed, envy and frustration? Some country singers sung songs about being poor and not knowing it; but they were happy. Isn’t peace and happiness the goal? Why not preach the Gospel of hope and peace? And more so, why preach that it is others should be forced to provide for the poor? Isn’t it all of our responsibility? The rich definitely have more responsibility to do so and should be taught that it will bring them peace too, but as victim of the Robin Hood mentality it won’t. And why not preach work and frugality? There is much in the Bible about that.
The other troubling part is the war between the rich and the poor that is being spread like wildfire. Shouldn’t the war be between good and evil? There are good and evil people that are rich as well as poor.
And we learn about negative results of collectivism in the Bible too. The early apostles pooled their wealth and income in order to live and eat so they could spread the gospel. But in Thessalonians we hear Paul say: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”. I have seen nothing in the Bible about income equality or fairness for that matter.
If someone can enlighten otherwise me I will listen!