Peace Be with You Podcast

Episode 35: Social Injustice

Peace Be With You Podcast Episode 35: Social Injustice

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Non-faith-based versions of Social Justice, versions that advocate identity politics and victimhood, tend to promote division and conflict. Instead of focusing on collaboration, consensus, and unity — they focus on differences.


“Angel Share” and “On My Way” Kevin MacLeod  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

Episode 35: Social Injustice

Often, the Social Justice movement does not bring peace. Social Justice is not always pastoral. And the movement does not always foster reconciliation. Social Justice advocates often create or escalate conflict. For that reason I have called this episode, Episode 35, Social Injustice.

Non-faith-based versions of Social Justice, versions that advocate identity politics and victimhood, tend to promote division and conflict. Instead of focusing on collaboration, consensus, and unity — they focus on differences.

They generate reasons why people should go into battle. Justifications for fighting are delivered to appointed victims. Counterfeit righteousness fuels a passion for embracing others in conflict.

Such Social Justice movements offer no paths to reconciliation. Someone must be defeated and/or destroyed. Righteousness becomes a license for coercion and domination. There is one acceptable outcome. The oppressed must trample the oppressor even though that makes them the new victim.

Such Social Justice movements take up the goals of tit-for-tat and eye-for-eye. They fuel an endless cycle of retribution. There is only one type of peace that results — the silence of a chosen enemy brought into submission. It is the peace of enforced silence. It lacks joy. And it lacks love.

These paradigms of Social Justice lead parties to seek to crush the imagined oppressor. They do not consider reconciliation. Yes, sometimes one must balance power in order to reach reconciliation, but that is rarely the nuanced view of Social Justice warriors.

In contrast, the faith-based reconciliation paradigm seeks to foster mystical unity. In such reconciliation we find our true identity — as an immortal soul. This common identity as spiritual beings has allowed men of faith to transcend differences and see all people as brothers and sisters.

The identity politics of the Social Justice movement defeats this unity of mankind, dividing people into warring factions. We lose the unity of a truly common identity found when we discover Christ within. From a Christian viewpoint, Social Justice that incorporates identity politics does not reside in the realm of faith. It is not found on the path to the Peace of Christ.

When we view with the Face of a Franciscan, we see the divine within the other. We do not fixate on immutable characteristics such as race or gender. We do not fixate on status or class.

When we encounter the Social Justice victim paradigm, we have strayed away from faith-based reconciliation. When we label a person a victim we take from them their core dignity as an immortal soul. They are robbed of their status as Divine Self — a self that transcends all worldly limitations. When a person becomes convinced he or she is a victim, they experience fallen world bondage.

This type of Social Justice echoes the forbidden tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad. Identity politics and victimhood reinforce the poison fruit — the duality that sets one person against another. We hear “I’m good and you’re bad.”

This type of Social Justice bars a person from the Tree of Life, which bears the fruit of mystical unity with Christ. It rips a person from the Body of Christ. They are set apart. They face their brothers and sisters with a defensive posture. They assume the pose of “me against the world.”

Faith-based reconciliation scales down the opposition with a concept from Catholic Social Doctrine: Subsidiarity. This idea states that the smallest social unit possible should make decisions. Those affected by decisions should make those decisions.

For example, people living in a neighborhood should make the decisions that affect life in that neighborhood. Federal officials should not make such decisions. Neighbors should meet with neighbors and find the policy that best suits their needs.

Subsidiarity encourages person-to-person mediation. It encourages conciliatory relationships. People work face-to-face to craft the social space. In contrast, Social Justice concepts tend to be abstract and global. Social Justice concepts are often masks that are affixed to people that turn them into symbols not unique individuals.

I say this not as a matter of politics or taste but rather as a purely practical matter. Most Social Justice approaches do not bring peace. At best they provide temporary fixes for power imbalances. But almost without fail the goal of reconciliation is soon forgotten and attention shifts entirely to attaining and exerting power.

The Church moves away from the faith when it turns to Social Justice paradigms that include identity politics, victimhood, and activism designed to coerce and dominate others into submission. When the goals become retribution and punishment, the Church veers off the path that leads to the Peace of Christ.

So, as peacemakers, we must lead with the models of faith-based reconciliation. We should avoid the destructive and damaging models of Social Justice. Peacemakers may not be popular in this age when Social Justice is the rage. But, peacemakers do not seek popularity — they seek peace.

Hope this has clarified some questions you might have about the current scene — and why conflict seems to be on the rise.

Good day. May God bless you and bring you peace.