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: