Saturday, December 4, 2010
What is Justice?
Recently a friend of mine sent me an email with a link to a U-Tube posting from something called "Real Catholics" on the subject of justice. I watched the U-Tube because a friend of my wished me to, and replied to him about what I thought. I could only agree with some of the content, which I felt to be a one sided application of Aquinas that made one fundamental mistake in the definition of justice. It was also a one sided condemnation of Catholics who it classified as Peace and Justice Catholics, whom it held to not ever really be pro-life and the cause of abortions. That is quite a charge, since very few Catholics are involved in providing abortion services or actively encouraging it. And many progressive Catholics are actively against abortion. I myself have prayed rosaries in front of abortion clinics with my friend who refereed me to this site. In fact once we were the only two. Here is what I said to my friend.
"Thank you for sharing this with me. It is true that justice has to do with giving according to what is due. That is basic Aquinas. However it is not true that it is the opposite of equality. Sometimes treatment with an equal hand is what is due. For instance if you as a parent always gave one of your children an extra helping of potatoes at dinner simply because he had red hair, like grandma, that would be a sin against justice.
So relative equality is something that needs to be considered. Not an absolute equality because that prevents giving according to what is due. But like Chesterton I wish that the concentration of wealth into very few hands be replaced with opportunity for all. I have always been against poverty, including, when I have been poor, my own. It is the official teaching of the church that we have a preferential option for the poor. Indeed there poverty is generally through no fault of their own. A greater degree of equality in society provided it is achieved through proper means is good, but the vision of a classless society is foolish and can lead to replacing one set of injustices with another. We have to remember which side of the Gates of Eden we are on
Now as to the things he said about "the social justice crowd", this is an unfortunate dividing of the church. It's true that some "social justice" advocates have not followed the churches teaching on abortion, etc, but rather a party line of some tendency in society they believe stands for justice. This is unfortunate and must be opposed.
On the other hand, many are fervently opposed to abortion and are very pro-life. They may or may not regard the pro-life movement as there particular call, but they stand for it. For example Consistent Life. http://www.consistent-life.org/. so I always urge everyone, wherever they are on the political spectrum to lend an ear to what the other guy has to say, and to dialog accordingly. We can usually learn from each other, and besides, if a person is reasonable and sincere, isn't listen to them just given them their due."
I am unalterably opposed to abortions, which are an act of violence, and I do regard it as a more fundamental act of violence than the death penalty (if it is applied to the guilty) which I also oppose. I also have a difficult time finding just wars to support. I think that poverty is also a form of violence. I invite any of my readers to post their disgreements with any of this here, because disagreement is the begging of dialog.