Philosophic Thought & Discussion: Care for the Poor as the Foundation of Social Change & Justice

 

Throughout England’s political history, change and progress have been a step-by-step process (Burns, 2003, p. 126). Most notably, their progression to the monarchy and parliament system seen today began with political beliefs and ideologies that shot down conflict or opposition to whoever may have been in power or a place of leadership at the time (Burns, 2003, p. 122). As these disagreements and disputes arose, people learned to become more tolerant, but only on matters that were more trivial than foundational to their political system (Burns, 2003, p. 123). Conversations on opposition grew between members and individuals, leading to the formation of organized groups fighting for the same purpose and ideas or values (Burns, 2003, p. 123). Unfortunately, for those who sought after change and transformation in the government, the English people themselves were not ready for such a drastic shift – that would come decades later (Burns, 2003, p. 124). Despite this, thought and experimentation continued and flourished, allowing others to consider ideas more thoroughly and expound on their own beliefs and visions (Burns, 2003, p. 124). Soon, opposition and discussion could take place without fear of prosecution or punishment, as this debate became an expression and transference of ideas to help rather than hinder or destroy outright or maliciously (Burns, 2003, p. 124). Finally, people began to look at their situations from a new perspective – as an outsider, weighing possibilities and options equally on both sides and without solely adhering to one idea or school of thought had previously been deemed to be right or the only way (Burns, 2003, p. 125 ). Critical and philosophical thought deepened, creating the ability to think about abstract and God-given rights and pursuits such as liberty and unity, as well as what the public, at large, needed versus what those in power or who were wealthy needed (Burns, 2003, p. 125). Because of all this, England began to adopt and value the party-system and open discourse and opposition as a necessary means for growth and beneficial change (Burns, 2003, p. 126).

Regarding Psychology, critical and deeper thought, as well as care and consideration or understanding seem relatively evident, but only in the traditional sense of “How does that make you feel?” talk-therapy. Indeed, Psychology is concerned with creating lasting and beneficial growth and change on the individual level interpersonally. At large, however, it must always be concerned with real and true social justice. This justice is through deeper and more critical thoughts and evaluations of beliefs and our own congruence in talk and action; such that everyone receives dignity, worth, and respect the way we, as individuals, expect and receive it (Leidner & Li, 2015). In communities where people’s rights have been taken away the most, there is a large call to reestablish these and adopt them as norms into society and politics but little progress in the way of enacting this into habits and behaviors (Leidner & Li, 2015). Those whose rights are taken away become more prone to silence and inaction and those who perpetrate the violence and hurt continue to do so (Leidner & Li, 2015). This is where our practice of psychology comes into play: if we believe that every human has a voice, dignity, worth, and potential that should be expressed, then our endeavor must become one that encourages and makes way for this to be so through constructive healing (Leidner & Li, 2015). This healing should be something that gives a voice to those who are victimized and downtrodden, while also demonstrating the hurt perpetrated and how it must be abolished (Leidner & Li, 2015). Our first questions and approaches will always be surface level and relatively superficial. But you cannot put a bandage over a bullet hole and expect it to heal. Thus, as therapy progresses and our personal and outside actions, views, and beliefs emerge and shift, we must begin asking deeper questions that get to the heart of the hurt of victims, perpetrators. Through this, our system must be critically analyzed and changed for progress and growth to occur. Our insight into the human mind and functioning, as well as critical and philosophic thought into what is innate and drives us can begin to shape and change the systems that perpetuate hurt, unfairness, and inequality, enacting a global and unified care and consideration for all human life.

In my current leadership practices, more often than not, I see a dichotomy in the tendency to push down what is painful or controversial or hit it head on in the effort to keep moving forward as quickly as we can. In the first case, we minimize conversations about controversy so as not to rock the boat or upset anyone. This may work for a short period, but eventually, our problems and conflicts boil over, growing to be a much more arduous task than if we had just confronted it from the start. On the other hand, there are many instances where I see others seeking to confront conflict and opposition too early or too directly, alienating others and thwarting progress before it even starts because we are too eager to see change occur. While I do not want the process of conversation and controversy to be a process that takes a hundred years, I realize that timing is integral in this. And the process of slowly but surely engaging in discussing painful or bewildering topics, critically evaluating our beliefs and values, and becoming more open-minded to new paths and ways of thinking follows right behind in importance. From this, I hope to be more accepting of when others are tolerating my ideas because I realize that eventually, they may become more open-minded to what I value, or will begin to think more critically and challenge or grow my beliefs to be more beneficial and logical in the long run. Moreover, our ability to debate and think philosophically and critically is something we must embrace more widely, especially as it relates to humanity at large and how we help, care for, encourage, and love those around us, those who hurt, and those who do not understand that pain. I believe that it is through our process of and openness to discussing important issues and topics about how we treat, view and love others that we can create the most change and develop dignity and love for all of humanity and the hurts we face.

As Christians, Keller discusses how we ought to be thinking of the terms social justice, and what we must begin doing to establish this in the manner God intends in the Old Testament (Keller, 2012, p. 1). We have a unique opportunity to see the world and its problems through a different lens that calls and propels us to care about and work towards the issues that God cares about (Keller, 2012, p. 1). We have the ability to open up new conversations, ideas, ways of seeing the world and of thinking that are in line with our call to defend those with the least amount of power or ability to have a voice (Keller, 2012, p. 5). We are called to go out into the world, working alongside who society shuns and steps on, partnering with and empowering them (Keller, 2012, p. 7-8, 11). As our work and discussions begin, we create social justice founded on sincere and authentic care for humanity as God’s people and social relationships that embody our communion with God and how this shapes and informs our words and actions (Keller, 2012, p. 11).

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:15-18, ESV).”

References

Burns, J. M. (2003). Transforming leadership: A new pursuit of happiness (Vol. 213). Grove Press.

Keller, T. (2012). Generous justice: How God’s grace makes us just. Riverhead Books.

Leidner, B., & Li, M. (2015). How to (re) build human rights consciousness and behavior in postconflict societies: An integrative literature review and framework for past and future research. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21(1), 106.

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