Social Justice


IRD writers and contributors comment on what social justice is, and how Christians can advocate for it based on the Gospel and natural law.


August 4, 2014

Checking On My Privilege (And, Yes, It’s Still There)

  • Aivis

    Peter, a great article.

    I have to say, I find this whole “privilege” cult strange and as a campaign to breed hate and division. Perhaps, that’s because I come from Europe. Having said that, I moved from a post communist state to the UK- and often some liberals like to think that due to that I should get some special benefit – it is counterproductive and doesn’t solve anything.

    But you have greatly shown why these claims of privilege are irrational in Christian sense because we are supposed to open doors and love our neighbours and alike. I think many progressives today ignore human instinct and true empathy, and instead create a hateful environment that does not foster discussion.

    • Peter Johnson

      Thanks Aivis. Yes, it’s almost as if the “privilege” cult wants to keep folks like me from participating in the conversation about justice. But it is precisely “privileged” folks like me that ought to be part of the conversation if we are to truly realize social justice.

      Acton’s “For the Life of the World” illustrates this, telling the story of Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) whose life changes when he is shown radical mercy by a “privileged” bishop, from whom he steals valuable silverware. Just one very poignant example of justice that goes beyond recompense to a broader view of what justice should mean for all of us. In modern times, I think the late Chuck Colson–and his Prison Ministries–is a great example of justice that goes beyond simple crime & punishment. The congregations participating in Prison Ministries really live out this call to Christian hospitality–opening up their homes and congregations to convicted felons. That really is a radical openness to the stranger–and I believe it is necessary to realize true redemption.

      I definitely recommend taking a look at “For the Life of the World.” It raises a lot of great questions about how best to engage in postmodern culture and discourse.

      • Aivis

        Thank you for your recommendations. I have never actually thought about Les Misérables from such a perspective.

        I couldn’t agree with you more that people such as yourselves should not be kept quiet by self-righteous “warriors for justice”. I think this is especially true for those in poverty. I am appalled that so many youngsters, in Britain at least, that have grown up in relatively well off families think they know what’s best for those in poverty. It creates a false narrative, where dissenting ideas are unwelcome.

        I have been following Acton Institute for over a year now, I really love it’s approach to faith and political economy. I have seen a little bit of “For the Life of the World”, but not much, so I will definitely have a closer look at it.

        • Peter Johnson

          So glad you’ve heard of us, Aivis. Check out our PovertyCure stuff too–especially if you’re interested exploring the sort of degenerate paternalism fostered by the well-off, liberal elites. It’s a real eye opener.

          I have experienced first-hand how these policies hurt poor people in developing countries–and am glad that folks are beginning to think more deeply about what it means to move “from paternalism to partnership.”

  • Holly Rowley

    Thanks for this article, Peter, and for moving the conversation in a different direction. Marvin Olasky states, “Social justice is the sum of millions of acts of relational justice.”

  • Namyriah

    I can’t speak for the whole nation, but in my area the vast majority of homeless people are white males, so I’m always amused to hear that we white males are the “privileged” ones. Back when feminism kicked in, the feminazis claimed they wanted to find “fulfillment” in jobs just like men did, conveniently overlooking the fact that most men did not wear ties to work but came home grimy and sweaty at the end of the work day. Only people who spent their lives sheltered in academia could be so narrowminded as to equate white maleness with “privilege.” My cotton-farming ancestors are probably laughing in their graves.