Dignity Is The Heart Of Catholic Teachings Philosophy Essay
Show how the dignity of the human person is at the heart of Catholic teaching on social justice in Pacem in Terris.
The term social justice is a great ideological idea, especially within the Catholic Church, but it is hard to find one solid definition. The term social justice was first coined by a Jesuit scholar, but it has evolved in a much larger concept from its original religious meaning. Social justice is fundamentally the thought of equality for all humans, but it can also be transferred into economics, politics and many other social sciences. Social justice seems to be more of an ideology than an actual obtainable concept. I believe that it is a good notion to strive towards, but much like other philosophies it is nearly impossible to attain. The world that we live in is anything but socially just. The world we live in is divided in so many ways. Even though a lot of countries in the world try to form their political systems around social justice, it usually doesn’t actually translate into real world situations. There is inequality in so many aspects of the world, anywhere from racial inequalities to socio-economic inequalities. You can look at it from a social, political, economic, and religious point-of-view.
In most (modern) countries we have moved away from the traditional idea of social stratification. However, even though we don’t have clear separation between classes anymore, there is still a distinction between the powerful and powerless. The emphasis has moved away from classification based on nobility or social status and it is more on an economic level. In the United States, there is still a dissimilarity between upper, middle and lower class. However, people are not prohibited to move from one class to the next. I feel that the ability to change class means there is less emphasis on the importance of the social classes. On the other hand, classism is still alive to a certain extent in The Bahamas. A lower social status is looked down upon, and importance and power is connected to a greater wealth. So if we look at social justice from a social point-of-view, we see that there is still a lot of disparity between the different classes, it has just evolved over time. Social justice can’t exist without complete equality and the departure from a socially structured class system.
The U.S. was founded on a democracy, a system based on equality and freedom for all people, which goes hand-in-hand with social justice. Theoretically, social justice should be able to exist in a democracy, it doesn’t always work out that way in actuality. In the capitalist democracy that is the U.S., the emphasis lies on the individual as opposed to society as a whole. In a society where emphasis is on the individual, people tend to be more selfish and care less for social justice. The political philosophies of socialism and communism are more congruent with social justice and equality for all. These theories advocate for the joint good of society, and everything is usually commonly owned. They are the opposite of capitalism, and came about as a reaction against it. The premise of communism to live without classes and to share all property seems like a really good idea on paper, but as we have seen in history, it usually doesn’t work out that well. The purpose of communism is supposed to be equal ownership of goods and an oppression free society. However, the people in charge tend to get greedy and take advantage of society. As we saw with the USSR, most people were dirt poor whilst Stalin and other leaders were living a life of luxury. So in reality, communism is very socially unjust and even cruel in many ways. This leads to the question if mankind as a whole is capable of social justice. It seems that regardless of what political system, we are not able to treat each person the same. Even if we look at the earliest forms of human interaction, there always was some form of inequality. In the tribes, you were treated differently depending on your strength and capability. Strong hunters would receive more food than the weaker ones. In a way this is the beginning of inequality, which lead to social injustice. If we look at the animal world the same thing is evident. Perhaps social justice isn’t a realistic concept, because it would become harder to survive. At the end of the day we are still animals, and perhaps our animal instinct is greater than our need for justice. Justice is a moral concept which is far too complicated for any other animal to understand. What separates humans from other animals, is our cognitive and reasoning skills. Social justice is an idea dreamt up by man, and it may be too difficult to actually achieve it. Especially as society keeps moving towards this notion that selfish actions are more important than the greater good. The mentality of “they don’t care, why should I” has taken over in the Western world and social justice has been put on the back burner. The debate about health care in the U.S. is in many ways a good example of this. A lot of people are so opposed to helping out their fellow man. It’s a socialist idea and it doesn’t serve their personal agenda, so they are radically against it. Yet if such a health care plan would pass, people would be able to get treated for medical conditions regardless what their financial status is. Which seems pretty socially just.
The idea of social justice translates into economic egalitarianism. In a socially just world, where all people are equal there should be financial equality as well. You can not have a society with such a variety in monetary status, and call it social just. A way to achieve an economic state were everyone enjoys the same benefits is income and property redistribution. This is what they would try to do in communistic societies, but as we saw a lot of the money and goods would go to those in power. It wouldn’t be equally divided over all the people as it should be if you want to redistribute everything. Another way to become economically alike is to use progressive taxation. This is another highly disputed notion in the U.S.. Progressive taxation is basically when the tax rate increases as the taxable amount that people are earning increases. So if you have a higher income, you would be taxed more. The idea behind this, is that people who earn millions can spare to give up more money than somebody who’s making minimum wage. A lot of people, especially the ones who would be in the higher tax brackets because of their high incomes are opposed to this. They think it is unreasonable that they are expected to pay more, just because they earn more. In a socially just world, it would only makes sense to use progressive taxation to try and relieve the stress on the people with a low income. This type of taxation would make it possible for the lower and middle classes to have a greater chance of achieving equality. This way it would be easier for all classes to live happier and healthier lives. It could even possibly reduce crime rates, because a lot of crimes are caused because of poverty related reasons. This notion of economic egalitarianism would definitely be beneficial to achieve social justice, but it could also be argued that it isn’t necessarily a requirement. Even though it would be favorable, justice is a matter of ethics and morality. So if people could treat each other humane regardless of their income, it could be considered socially just. However, I believe that the differences in income lead to feelings of entitlement for the rich and resentment for the poor. From what we’ve seen in history, I don’t feel that humans can raise above it for the greater good.
Social The theory of social justice are very important in the Catholic church and their social teachings. It almost seems justice might not be attainable, because of the egotistical mentalities of man, but it is a key pillar in the Catholicism. The reason why it is so important is because the Catholic Church values every life, regardless of someone’s economic wealth or social status. They believe a human life is to be valued above all else, especially material possessions. Not only is life to be valued and cherished, but each human being deserves to be treated with dignity. A lot of the teachings of Jesus talk about showing compassion to the needy. All throughout the bible there are stories of Jesus helping and healing the poor, whilst other people would ignore and judge them. Social justice is very important to the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, because in a way it is a foundation for the Christian religion. The value of community reflects Catholic teaching because it helps create an environment where people are working together and trust each other. When people are motivated to be interdependent, they will be more likely to create an atmosphere that is more likely to support a socially responsible and just way of life. Excellence and integrity are important because people will be honest and work hard to become morally responsible people. This way people will consistently treat people with dignity and be true to their word. Personal development comes into play, since a person’s mind needs to be developed to understand the concept of social justice and to see wrong from right. By committing to better one’s self, it will ultimately better society as a whole. The value of responsible stewardship has a big impact on social science, because it encourages the students to service the community and share in the plethora of resources that we have. Not only do we have a lot of tangible goods we can share, by doing food drives and giving to the less fortunate, there’s also the fact that we can pass on the knowledge we accumulate here. We can share things we learn in our classes, we can pass on the teachings of the bible, and we can give a helping hand where needed. The several community services opportunities at school are a great example of this. Perhaps the most important value is respect. Social justice would not be able to exist without the respect we have for ourselves and for others. Treating others with respect and dignity is key to have a society where all people are treated equally. For everyone to feel one and the same there has to be respect to promote esteem among each other. If we can make another human feel good about themselves and the world by doing something kind, than we promote social justice. A lack of respect is detrimental to a society of fairness and justice.
Social justice is very important in the world, especially in today’s society. The Catholic Church has been greatly influenced by the socially just teachings of Jesus. They promote the dignity of all human beings and value each life, which is quintessential to a just world. The precedent humans have set isn’t one for a socially just world. Societies have been divided up into different classes and there is still a great amount of discrimination to this day. Regardless of what political structure a society is operating under, social injustice seems to be present. Whenever a civilization tries to establish a culture of equality, there always seems to be more control and financial equity with the political leaders or another specific powerful group. The only way to avoid that is to have economic egalitarianism. The wealth and benefits should be equally divided among all the citizens of a country. Social justice is such an important concept and even though it seems so unattainable, it’s is important to keep striving towards it. Even if we never reach a socially just world, people should never stop trying to achieve it. All the negatives I have highlighted, such as greed and selfishness, should never outweigh the goodness in mankind. One person cannot change society, but as a whole we are unstoppable. Social justice is not only an important Catholic value, it is an important human value as well. Equality for all is a long time away for all, but in the mean while we can try to be kind to anyone we come into contact with.
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