Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why it is so hard to talk about Social Justice.

"People try to influence one another constantly... People influence one another to support some values and to oppose others. In the past, they promoted such overt values as chastity, obedience, thrift. Today they advocate such covert values as the common good, mental health, welfare — blanks that may be filled in with any meaning the speaker or listener desires. Herein lies the great value of these vague terms of the demagogue, whether political or professional. Just as a presidential candidate may talk about restoring the nation's economy to a 'healthy' condition, without specifying whether he is promoting a balanced budged or deficit financing, so a psychiatrist may talk about 'mental health,' without revealing whether he is promoting individualism or collectivism, autonomy or heteronomy."
— Dr. Thomas Szasz

Get two Catholics together and they will probably agree about justice as it applies to the individual, but they will probably diverge on the meaning of "social justice." This does not excuse us from working for social justice, nor from being charitable to each other when we disagree about what it means.

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