Archive | 7:32 am

Beyond the Buzzwords

12 Oct

Yesterday’s post noted that “social justice” can be two things. Sometimes it refers to authentic Church teaching, and other times it’s a politically charged buzzword. Further, these two meanings are blended just enough these days to cause considerable–at times calculated–confusion.

Here are just a few examples of “social justice” terms and how they are sometimes misused:

Human rights and human dignity belong to each and every person by virtue of their being created in the image and likeness of God, and upon the natural law. Some now assert that such rights and dignity are determined (or taken away) by the state or the “will of the people.”

Freedom reaches its perfection in seeking what is true and good, which ultimately leads one to God. Some now define “freedom” as the license to do whatever one feels like doing (as long as it involves “consenting adults” and isn’t “illegal”), without regard to truth, goodness, or God.

Truth involves correspondence to objective reality. Some now claim that “truth” is merely a relative term that can vary from person to person. In the process, many people today deny objective truth, particularly in the moral realm.

Common good refers to the good of the entire community, as the proper object of a just law, which nonetheless presupposes respect for the individual person (cf. CCC 1907). Some now equate the promotion of the common good to the redistribution of wealth, entitlement programs, and an exaggerated deference to the federal government.

Culture of life derives from Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae. While it provides a coherent presentation of the range of life issues, the document hones in on abortion and euthanasia as the key issues of our time. Some use “life” or “culture of life” (without meaning anything in particular) to give credence to their position, even as they persist in their permissive position on abortion and other non-negotiable moral issues.

Development involves access to the basic necessities of life, especially for the poor. Some use “development,” consciously or otherwise, as code for exporting—or even imposing when necessary—American secular values, most notably an anti-natalist agenda.

Other examples would include “equality,” “solidarity,” and even “family.”