The recent tragedy in Haiti started me thinking about the meaning of social justice. We all have been asked over the past few weeks to give our money in many ways. We text for Haiti, watch celebrity concerts and televisions specials, we give to our churches. But we have to ask ourselves, when we give our money, is this social justice? We feel inadequate in the scope of this tragedy. We hope and pray that these funds will help our brothers and sisters in Haiti but is giving funds enough? For myself, I think this is a small piece of the social justice pie.
As a member of the Hope for Haiti group, I have discovered that giving money is just not enough. There is something inside of me that calls me to much more. Each week as our group meets to discuss ways to respond to this tragedy, I realize that there are a number very complicated issues that will affect the recovery and future of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. In our discussions, the students from Haiti remind me that their countrymen are persons whose dignity and spirit must be respected. Haitians must be engaged fully in the recovery and rebuilding plans of their country, and not treated as if they are too ignorant or poor to help themselves, which is often how they are portrayed. This seems to me to be in direct opposition to the concept of social justice. The foundation of my life is based on my faith. Jesus tells us that we must love God and love our neighbor. So, love flows from God to our neighbor. I think that social justice originates from this love. Acting from love allows us to treat our brothers and sisters with reverence and respect. Keeping this in mind prevents us from mistreating or acting unjustly towards them.
I discovered that I have a lot of questions to ask and answer for myself about Haiti. Such as, why is Haiti so poor? What is the history of Haiti? How can I educate others and take action now and in the future to improve the situation in Haiti? I have committed myself to exploring the answers to these questions and many others. I plan to educate my self so I can act in the spirit of love with my brothers and sisters in Haiti, in order to be part of God’s plan by promoting social justice. Maybe my journey will provide me with a better understanding of what social justice means.
Robert Reed, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs