Hungering for Justice

Herein is the difference between private charity and social justice, between doing acts of mercy and confronting systems of injustice. Private charity responds to the needs of the homeless and the poor, but social justice tries to get at the reasons why there are homeless and poor people in the first place and offer constructive solutions.While charity is about giving a hungry person some bread, social justice is about trying to change the system so that no one has excess bread while some have none. Charity is about helping the victims of war, while social justice is about peacemaking and eliminating the conditions that lead to war.

— Chuck Queen, “Hungering for Justice (Private Charity is Not Enough)”

And here is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer making the same point:


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  • David_Evans

    Shorter version from Helder Camara

    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Social justice is about making the government just strong enough to control the entirety of the economy but just weak enough to not go to war on a whim? Got it.

    • VinnyJH

      While I am not without sympathy for the injustices that Rand’s family may have suffered at the hands of the Bolsheviks, it pales in comparison to the sympathy I feel towards the injustices that the peasants suffered at the hands of the Tsarists. It is hard for me to hold their ideologies responsible for their poverty.

      • Michael Wilson

        Vinny, I was addressing the ideology of the poor in the free world. Russia’s serfs could hardly be blamed for being poor, the law mandated it. Of course after the revolution those that embraced the hateful philosophies of the Marxist had only themselves to blame for the horror that follwed.

        • VinnyJH

          Given the chaos existing in Russia after the revolution and the ongoing hell of World War I, which most of the familiar forms of government had participated in bringing about and prolonging, I am not inclined to judge anyone too harshly merely for their willingness to give Marxism a try.

          • Michael Wilson

            I agree, we are prisoners of our circumstance and in the chaos of 1917 the peasants could be forgiven for falling for Lenin’s promises, though the indiscriminate murder he ushered in could not have happened had the people not given in to their hatred.

            • VinnyJH

              Once Lenin seized power, I’m not sure exactly what you think the people could have done to change the course of events.

              • Michael Wilson

                My comments were aimed at “those that embraced the hateful philosophies of the Marxist” Most peasants probably didn’t participate in the civil war just as most Americans were neutral during our own revolution. The common people were just as much victims of Lenin as the aristocrats and middle class.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    And these are the type of quotes that make people understand why Ayn Rand is so popular.

    • James F. McGrath

      Ayn Rand isn’t especially popular, but perhaps you move in different circles than I do. I don’t get what you were trying to say with your comment. Could you clarify?

      • VinnyJH

        Speaking as the captain of my high school chess team, I am convinced that the popularity of Ayn Rand is explained by chess club nerds getting stuffed into their lockers too often by jocks–or not often enough. I’ve never been quite sure which.

      • Enopoletus Harding

        Ayn Rand railed against the moochers and the looters who speak in terms of social justice. Also, I said “so popular”, not “popular” or “especially popular”.

        • Andrew Dowling

          “Ayn Rand railed against the moochers and the looters”

          Are they similar to the Turnbull ACs and Baseball Furys??

  • Living Liminal

    I love that Bonhoeffer quote!