Monday, June 2, 2008

JUSTICE AND MERCY NOT CHARITY

This quote from Jim Read, senior policy analyst for the Army's International Social Justice Commision was recently brought to my attention

...what I understood of the Army's social ministries. People had all sorts of needs. We should care. The law of love demands it and the overflow of God's grace to us makes it possible. The thought that the person on the receiving end had a right to what was given wouldn't have occurred to me.
I saw the Army's social work as charity, not as an obligatory response to a legitimate claim. Poverty was awful, dehumanising. That, I knew. But that the poor had been wronged, that poverty was a consequence or manifestation of oppression? I don't think I possessed that paradigm.
Yet, it is precisely these terms - rights, oppression, being wronged, entitlement - that are key to understanding 'justice'.

There are still people, like Jim says he once was, who think that the call of the Army is to charity rather than to mercy and justice?

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