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Social Justice goes beyond Government funding

“Social Justice is about the government making sure everyone has enough stuff.”

That is fundamental misconception.

According to Ryan Messmore, a William E Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, we need a more robust concept of social justice, which understands poverty as being more than just material.

“Poverty, if traced back to its roots, usually has to do with a breakdown of some foundational relationship in life that is necessary to flourish.”

Social justice is therefore largely about restoring broken relationships. It needs to be cultivated and grown, it takes time, and it is not as simple as the government depositing money in people’s accounts.

Mr Messmore illustrated the potential we have to change society for the better, with the story of Roderick a drug dealer in Dallas, Texas.

Roderick lived in a poor neighbourhood where he controlled 70% of the drug traffic.

The welfare system was such that his family got more money if his legitimate income remained under a certain threshold, and if he remained in a non-committed relationship with the mother of his children.

This was therefore how he lived and most people in his local area lived, with devastating consequences. He did not know anyone in his neighbourhood who was married, and hardly any of the men worked, which cultivated depression and illicit drug use.

Roderick came home one night at 11 pm to find his three-year-old rolling up a piece of paper like a joint, just as the child had seen his father do.

Roderick realised something was horribly wrong and decided he needed to change things. About this time an older couple in a nearby suburb, Ron and Cheryl, decided they wanted to help others in need.

A pastor introduced Ron and Cheryl to Roderick and his family. Ron and Cheryl took to Roderick and his family as their own, loving, mentoring and helping them.

Ron’s company helped Roderick build a new home that was more suitable for his family. Roderick, affected by Ron’s example, married the mother of his children and quit drugs, soon after which he got a job helping others out of poverty.

Ron and Cheryl say they have learnt and benefitted just as much as Roderick and his wife through the relationship. Roderick’s children now wake up in a good home, with committed parents and a father who goes off to work an honest job.

Welfare cheques or the occasional visit from a social worker could not give Roderick and his family the human support that they desperately needed.

Social justice requires all of us, from families to police, to clubs, to government, to play our part in meeting needs. The Government can provide some crucial building blocks like the rule of law, but individuals like Ron and Cheryl are also required to build the long-term relationships and strong community that are necessary for real escape from poverty.

-Maxim Institute

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