What is social justice?

Racial and other barriers have plagued the world for centuries. But each of us can contribute to resolving remaining social injustice issues, by committing to express more of our God-given compassion, understanding, and unity.

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What does social justice look like? To me, social justice would be the effect of erasing barriers – racial, gender, cultural, and so on – through the kind of compassion that Jesus expressed, which uplifts and heals. This involves living with more honesty, fairness, unselfishness, goodness, etc.

Social justice, I am learning from my study of Christian Science, means more than a hoped-for, idealistic, or imagined state of things. Rather, social justice represents a present spiritual fact – the unity and equality of God’s creation. Each of us is an individual, spiritual idea of divine Love, God, and our oneness with God and one another is an eternal reality. This oneness can be realized today if demonstrated by expressions of understanding, compassion, and affection toward each other. Despite the glass ceiling that feels unbroken for people of color and the slowness of improvement in social justice and equality, all men and women are forever free to express their spiritual oneness, or unity, with God.

Jesus of Nazareth proved this. He achieved immortal greatness despite being persecuted by the leadership of his own faith. He achieved what he did, not as a great Jew, but because he understood the infinite capacities of man as God’s image. Eighteen centuries later, his loyal follower Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, led a movement that reinstated Jesus’ healing method, even though she was a woman in what was then a man’s world. Her vital purpose in following Christ Jesus included demonstrating the God-bestowed right of each individual to be free from limitation and oppression of every kind.

And the study and application of Christian Science makes this an achievable possibility for every individual today. Neither disregard for human rights nor racial or other injustice can stop the love that flows freely from God, divine Love, to each of us as God’s child.

Love for others enabled Jesus and his followers to rise above the social injustices of their day. For example, the Apostle Peter recognized that Cornelius, a Roman military officer – whom Jewish law forbade him to mix with – was an equal child of God and therefore shared equally in God’s love. Peter accepted an invitation to Cornelius’ home, and told Cornelius, as well as those gathered with him, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34, 35).

The divine fact ever remains that the spiritual creations of God are individual, intact, and indispensable. Each individual identity relates essentially to the entirety of God’s creation.

I was the first of my siblings to attend an integrated school in our small town in the southwestern United States. Feeling little compassion or empathy from my classmates, dejected and isolated, I was tempted to drop out during my second year of high school. Then one day, I reached out to God to help me. Almost immediately I felt the presence of God assuring me that everything was going to be all right. Soon afterward I was given some Christian Science magazines. In reading them, I began learning that God loves me and everyone. With this new view, I continued in school.

At the end of our senior year, all the graduating seniors took a week-long celebration trip – all except my cousin and me, who were excluded. This was hurtful. Many years later, my willingness to forgive was sorely tested. Some of my former classmates called and encouraged me to attend our 50th alumni celebration. One apologized for not including the Black students in that senior trip so many years before.

Unsure if I should attend, I began praying with the Lord’s Prayer. The following line, with its spiritual interpretation from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mrs. Eddy, was especially meaningful: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

“And Love is reflected in love” (p. 17).

Inspired by this and other ideas on forgiveness, I attended the event, and have since enjoyed newly formed friendships with some of those classmates. This experience caused me to be more willing to let go of hurt, fear, and suspicion and to express more compassion.

We each have a contribution to make to the higher understanding of divine Love that alone can resolve remaining social injustice issues and erase the racial and other barriers that have plagued this nation that I love, and other countries, for centuries. Every individual spiritual awakening brings ever closer the fulfillment of this promise: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man;... annihilates ... whatever is wrong in social ... codes;...” (Science and Health, p. 340).

Adapted from an editorial published in the Oct. 26, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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