Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Caring

I have a subscription to a Salvationist magazine called 'Caring' which is produced in the US West Territory. I really like this mag which focusses on the social service ministries of The Salvation Army, with input from right around the world. I am currently reading through the April edition which highlights issues of Social Justice and have been struck by this quote from James Read, senior policy analyst for the Army's International Social Justice Commision.
...what I understood of the Army's social ministries. People had all sorts of needs. We should care. The law of love demands it and the overflow of God's grace to us makes it possible. The thought that the person on the receiving end had a right to what was given wouldn't have occurred to me. I saw the Army's social work as charity, not as an obligatory response to a legitimate claim. Poverty was awful, dehumanising. That, I knew. But that the poor had been wronged, that poverty was a consequence or manifestation of oppression? I don't think I possessed that paradigm. Yet, it is precisely these terms - rights, oppression, being wronged, entitlement - that are key to understanding 'justice'.
How many people, like Read once was, are stuck with the notion that our work is about charity rather than justice? It's a helpful reminder to us all.

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