I define social justice as the human value or right that every human is created holy, and should have an equal opportunity to live a life free from oppression, domination, and exploitation. I am the father of one child who has travelled the world and witnessed first hand the different ways in which children around the world can grow up. My calling in life is to help raise young men and women who will go out in the world and create a lasting, improving, evolving future. This, in part informs my belief that humanity is equally valued and must be equally nurtured.
As a leader of adolescents, I have a burden to help open their eyes to the unfair world that surrounds them, while inspiring within them, the belief that they can, and are purposed, to play a part in making it better. This is a leadership necessity. Social Justice means that privileged North American children need to learn the exceptional advantages that they get to live with. They also need to be encouraged that they can make a tangible difference in the life of someone on the other side of the globe, even in something as simple as their consumer choices.
As a leader of adolescents, I believe that I do not have a choice. Social justice is imperative and the principles behind it allow me to function with leadership authority. If I did not see humanity as sacred than I would treat those in my care with bias, lacking fairness. This would lead to me abdicating my leadership authority due to a moral failure.
So, social justice comes from what it means to be human and valued. Not the exaltation or debasement of any person based on their geographic location, race, or economic standing. It is to recognize and honour all of humanity, even yourself, as purposeful, valuable, and independent. For when we truly find the value in the other then I begin to understand how unique and important I am. Not more important or more unique than anyone else, but, equally vital, sacred, and holy. In esteeming all of humanity, we value ourselves.
Written by Eric Benner
/ Husband to Elizabeth, Father to Adelaide Anne, and follower of Jesus. He serves the teenagers of Fort McMurray as the youth pastor at McMurray Gospel Assembly.