Social (No Relation to David) Justice

Somehow I got to this point in life without reading John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” or watching the 1940 movie starring Henry Fonda.  Mary and I watched the movie the other night, initiating the following thoughts.

Paragraph 2426 under the heading of “Economic Activity and Social Justice” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man.

I think we all sense in our hearts that Creation’s bounty is sufficient for all, but in our fallen world we can’t seem to create a way of sharing the resources in a fair and loving way.  Ardent capitalists – with a copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” tucked under their arms – vehemently defend capitalism as the best way of distributing those resources, but we have to admit examples of its weaknesses and failure abound…Enron, anyone?  As for socialism linked with totalitarianism: the many graves of those starved, shot, and bored to death in the service of the State testify with mute eloquence.  The more politically benign socialism of Europe has produced an affluence masking deep social and spiritual problems, most poignantly expressed anytime pasty Scandinavians gyrate under strobe lights to pounding disco beats.  I can drive around my own county and burn very little gas to find ramshackle houses next to upscale subdivisions.  With our children gone, Mary and I are living in a 4,000 square-foot house with three-and-a-half bathrooms and stubbing for a fourth.  (But why is it she always wants to use the one I’m using?)  We look askance at Indians and Packistanis who bring their extended families to live in our single-family homes, but is it possible in terms of social justice they are on the right path?

I saw a news vignette this week on Franklin Graham’s “The Samaritan’s Purse” organization and the work it is doing Haiti.  Sadly, much of the $40 million his organization has spent towards Haitian relief is still sitting in containers on the docks of  Port-au-Prince being held by corrupt customs officials.  Just one example of how fallen human nature thwarts good intentions.  I found it amusing that apparently Franklin Graham gets a lot of criticism because he offers Bibles and preaching to people along with the aid, like he’s wrong to sift Christianity in with the help.  The aid is provided whether the Haitians take the Bibles and come to the preaching or not, but how dare he nonetheless.  Yes, somebody in Congress needs to hold a hearing on Franklin Graham for sure.  (DISCLAIMER: if it comes to light that Franklin Graham has frequent bouts of binge Kahlua drinking followed by re-enactments of the “worshiping the golden calf” scene from “The Ten Commandments” where he spins around in his underwear with a hooker under each arm….I never wrote this section.)

The average North Korean at fourteen is two inches shorter and twenty pounds lighter than the average South Korean, while Kim Jong Il lives a swinging lifestyle and drops subjects who don’t bow respectfully enough to one his statues in his pirhana pond: not exactly inspired by Psalm 23, is he?  I am puzzled by the idea of a leader without compassion for his people, but current and historical examples abound.  The peach orchard overseers in “The Grapes of Wrath” responded to the workers’ complaints that picking peaches for 2-1/2 cents a box was not going to feed their children with “Take it or get the hell out!”  How does a heart get that hard?  In the face of an overwhelming litany of  human pride, greed, and callousness, it seems to me the credo of the American Humanist Association provokes a bemused shake of the head:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Yes, the Cleveland Browns have the ability and responsibility to with the Super Bowl, but somewhere along the way the execution falls a little short…well, a lot of short.  Actually in NFL terms they fall a lot of short in the sense of the distance of the Earth to the Sun.  But I digress…

“What’s your solution, smart guy?” you may be saying at this point.  Wish I had one.  God offered us Order  built on a foundation of Love, and we rejected it.  He sent His Son to reaffirm His original offer.  Many continue to reject it.  We can only each look to our own hearts and try to abide in that Eternal Love, and hope that our example draws others to it.  And one day in glory the Son will return to establish the Order of Love, and for many that Love will be too painful to embrace.

 

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One Comment on “Social (No Relation to David) Justice”

  1. Stan Says:

    Amen. Humanist…Progressive? You say Tom-atoe, I say Tom-a-toe.

    You go boy!


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