Justice, not Charity

In religious circles a lot has been written about how charity treats the symptoms of injustice rather than correcting what is wrong. It’s not a new thought. We’ve known this for a long time. Writing before World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

“We are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

This is hard work. It is easier to write it or say it, and much more difficult to know what to do and how to act to correct the inequalities and injustices that wound people. It means standing with those who suffer and confronting those with power. And I will be the first to admit that is frightening. It’s easier to stay safe in my privileged position.

One way to begin is to engage in charity with the aim of discovering the reason charity is necessary, then to work to correct the cause of the suffering that makes charity needed in the first place. God give me the courage to love, to learn, and to work to correct injustice.

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