Tag Archives: social justice

Family Values

I hear a lot about “family values,” although never more than during an election cycle.

My question is: What are family values? People tout that phrase all the time, yet when pressed, I can’t imagine that a one of them could mention a single value that would fill the bill.

values

(As an aside: People who talk about “family values” are usually the same people who say they’re fighting for “social justice,” but I suggest that most of them cannot define “justice.”)

So for people interested in values, these are the seven that I hold dear. I believe they are universal as well as personal. I believe they are inherent in our DNA. I believe that any law written anywhere should be held up to this short list of values to see if it passes muster. If so, let it be. If not, then tweak it until it does.

Life

Equality

Quality of Life

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Empathy

Compassion

Love for Humanity

Please note that Life, Equality, and Opportunity for Personal Growth are strangely similar to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a phrase etched into the Declaration of Independence. Those men knew what they were talking about.

These are good values for your family. If we all taught our children to admire these values and adhere to them as adults, our society would be a better place. Our world would be a better place.

It’s never too late to adopt them as your own.

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2013: Year of Sustainability

I’ve been naming my years lately. 2009 was my Year of Hesed (lovingkindness). 2010 was my Year of the Tao. 2011, my Year of Living Simply. 2012, my Year of Forgiveness. I did a lot of forgiving this past year, both of myself for my gaffes, stupid comments/acts and poking my nose into other peoples’ business, and for others who did the same to me or in my presence. I have a long way to go toward being the type of loving, non-judgmental human being I aspire to be, but a healthy dose of forgiveness goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

In 2013, I want the focus to be on sustainability.  I want to think “Sustainability!” in every area of my life, with the hope that the things that I do and say prompt others to start thinking in channels of sustainability. I’ve already begun eating a plant-based diet, as our meat and dairy production facilities are unsustainable for the world.

Theologian Matthew Fox, in his amazing book A New Reformation wrote: “Sustainability is another word for justice, for what is just is sustainable, and what is unjust is not.”

This is as good a definition of justice as I have ever heard. As “Social Justice” is one of the new buzzwords these days, I’m not sure those who promote it can define it. This is a good definition, and I hope all will eventually adopt it.

This year I will be mindful about my consumption. I will work for sustainable causes, whether it be in education, in social reform, health care, politics, or self-expression. I believe that the planet teeters on the brink of a sustainability revolution, and if I can help to push awareness over the brink, I will.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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What is Justice?

With Social Justice being somewhat of a battle cry these days, I think it might be important to ask those who are working for social justice to please define it.

The word “social” is easy. The dictionary says: “of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community.”

The situation gets a bit thornier when we try to define Justice. Normal definitions have to do with moral codes and the law. Well, are the laws defined by our moral codes? Whose moral codes do we use, and how do we define those?

There are certain values which seem to be inborn. Those shared values make us human, and in fact, allows us to become a society. But we have such clever methods of justification that we can twist almost anything into a moral code.

Just watching the nightly news will make it obvious that there are at least two sides to every story, and a different opinion for every person watching. How can we derive our laws–our system of justice–from such a diverse pool, from such an aggregate of special interests? Our opinions, and therefore our beliefs, stem in great part from our needs.

Examine, if you will, both sides of the abortion controversy. Or the death penalty controversy. Or the controversy of your choice.  On each side you will find passionate feelings and opinions, and myriad justifications for those feelings and opinions.

But is that how we should write our laws? Should the moral code of our country be dictated by the current sway of passionate feelings and opinions?

Is there an alternative?

Matthew Fox, in his book A New Reformation writes: “Sustainabillity is another word for justice, for what is just is sustainable and what is unjust is not.”

What if we built our laws, not upon feelings, opinions and scriptural interpretations, but upon sustainability? What if we projected two hundred years into the future and refused to do anything that would knowingly cause harm to our descendants, seven generations hence?

What if sustainability was the law of the land?

We might have a stable economy. We might have an educational system that addressed the needs of the students. We might have a food and water distribution system that nourished every citizen. We might have a fair taxation system that we could depend upon for the next few generations. We might have systems that would perpetuate in righteousness, and the politicians would not be able to throw the citizenry into fear so they could be re-elected, because the very way our representatives are elected would be different.

Sustainability isn’t just another buzzword for the decade. It could very well be the definition of social justice, and the salvation of our society.

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Filed under Social Consciousness, Sustainability

Justice and Sustainability

An attorney friend not long ago asked me, “What is justice?”

Good question.

I had no answer for him, but the very next day, while doing research for a theology class, I read the answer. It came from Matthew Fox’s book A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity. In it, he says: “Sustainability is another word for justice, for what is just is sustainable and what is unjust is not.” The flavor of that phrase resonates with me as truth.

Today, of course, I’m thinking about the heart-wrenching oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m also thinking about poverty and social inequities. I’m thinking of the poor people in Haiti without shelter during the hurricane season as the Goldman Sachs people defend their million-dollar bonuses.

I’m thinking about Capitalism and how it is neither sustainable nor just, and wondering what will replace it. I’m thinking about our energy, taxation, health care policies all of which are neither sustainable nor just, and wondering what will replace them. In fact, what policies do we have in place that are sustainable and therefore just?

Few, if any.

Even the way we elect our officials is unsustainable and therefore unjust, but to ask them to effect real change in the electoral system is like asking a knife to cut its own handle. Therefore, it’s up to us.

This is the task that lies ahead for all of us–personally and individually–and as an election approaches, these are the questions we should be asking the candidates. Ask them to define sustainability. Ask them to define justice. Challenge every decision they make on our behalf to consider, as the Iroquois Nation does, the effects of their policies seven generations hence.

 In 1887, Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This has always been true, but these days it can no longer be hidden. Now that it has been exposed, let us hold our elected officials to a higher standard. 

Let’s not let them get away with any of this any longer. Our lives depend upon it.

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Filed under Evil, politics, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality