For the Narcissist Lover in You…

The thing I hate about social justice

This is copied from a FB response I made to a very kind person discussing the merits of living in community, not watching any television, and teaching one’s children about social responsibility (i.e. the evils of political powers and corporate executives, as opposed to the benefits of helping one’s less-fortunate fellow man).  Most of it I agreed with, but there is one part of the whole social justice movement that really sticks in my prodigious craw.  As follows:

One thing I wonder about more and more is humanity’s tendency to villify certain broad categories of people, while elevating others to sainthood. Interestingly, I am not talking about the older prejudices of race or religion, but the even older prejudices of class and power.

For example, I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that at least some oil industry executives and powerful political figures also love their children, try to live justly, and serve their fellow man, despite the universal knee-jerk villification of them that is prevalent among the current media climate. In the same vein, I doubt that all poor people are faultless victims of oppression, completely innocent of the circumstances that led to their poverty. This does not mean we shouldn’t help them, of course. Nor does it mean that many people in power are not selfish brutes in suits.

It just means that the world is still comprised of individual humans, all of whom are capable of great good and great evil, regardless of their position. I am reluctant to teach my children that generic classes of people are good or bad– universally worthy of admiration or reproach– based solely on their superficial life category.

One of the things that I truly dislike about the modern social justice movement is this very simplistic judgment: that wealth and power always equals universal evil, while poverty and impotence is seamlessly reverenced.

In my house, we don’t have cable television, but I do watch some programs on Hulu. Not all of it is horrible, I must admit. Some of it is amazingly thoughtful, even intellectually and spiritually challenging! Then again, a lot of it is pure drivel, but my point is this:

In terms of humanity, nothing is absolute. Not all TV is dreck. Not all wealth is evil. Not all “stuff” is to be avoided. Not all poverty is innocent. The lowest common denominator is still the individual human being, and the older I get, the more the individual human being, regardless of my assumptions, can surprise me.

Balance– that delicate act of tasting without gorging, respecting without blindly revering, chastising without reviling, judging without stereotyping– balance is the hardest thing of all for us humans.

Do you think?

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6 responses

  1. Chris Bassett

    Thank you. Excellent commentary on the “Social Justice” phenomenon. I hesitate to think that Jesus would’ve endorsed class envy to forward the idea of a more just society.

    Whether it’s the many murderous, Marxist purges of the 1900s, or the quashing of peasant revolts, as in early 1600s Germany, social justice movements have ever been fraught with the peril of spreading grave, ironic injustice.

    Like the old Who song, the SJ folks ultimately become the unjust new boss: “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.” Where humans reign, there will always be injustice.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    • You nailed it, Chris. And love the Who reference.

      September 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

  2. Pat Costello

    This article is thoughtful and well written. It is a reminder to all on the edges of the left and right that most people get up each day wanting to do a good job and nothing is black or white. Most of us are a no. 18 grey.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:58 am

  3. Dags

    Yes, well… you never did say it was “social justice for all”, did you?

    Humans came in shareware form. Upgrading to full functionality comes with a price, and not many people are prepared to shell out for features they don’t need on a daily basis.

    Having said that, I do apologize for spooking you; it won’t happen again.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  4. Dags: when did you spook me? I am somehow failing to recall that! And I like a good spook now and then.

    September 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

  5. Dags

    Ah, so The Silence Of Lippert’s was not due to a dispatch-induced cardiac arrhythmia? Good, because I still need that feedback.

    And the spooking service will resume in three, two, one… 😉

    September 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

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