Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Justice (14) - Confusion

Some Christians try to categorise all poverty as justice, but this does not really help if injustice was not the cause. If the poverty was not the result of injustice, describing it as in justice is the same as calling good evil. It gives a distorted view of reality.

If we see all poverty as being caused by injustice, we end up seeing poor people as victims, who need a rich clever person to sort them out. Love empathises with the person who is poor. Love does not tell them what they need or what to do. Love finds out what they need. This world needs more mercy, but we will not encourage mercy by calling it justice.

Justice is important, but there real are limits to what justice can achieve for the poor. Justice only works where an injustice is the cause of poverty. Mercy finds real solutions to the problem.

The reason why people want to make poverty an issue of justice is that they want to use force to eliminate poverty. The problem is that you cannot force people to have mercy or to show compassion. However, force can be used to remedy injustice. Therefore, turning poverty into injustice or social justice provides a justification for forcing the rich to assist the poor. This approach causes injustice in the name of relieving poverty.

Shalom might be a better motivation and objective for those who are concerned about the poor. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It has a broad meaning that includes completeness, wholeness, health, peace, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest, harmony. On the one, hand we cannot have shalom while some people are extremely rich and others are extremely poor. On the other hand, we cannot use coercion to restore Shalom.

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