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Charity versus Justice: A Macro Look at Compassion Bob Wolensky Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

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Presentation on theme: "Charity versus Justice: A Macro Look at Compassion Bob Wolensky Stevens Point, Wisconsin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Charity versus Justice: A Macro Look at Compassion Bob Wolensky Stevens Point, Wisconsin

2 Works of Mercy To feed the hungry. To give drink to the thirsty. To shelter the homeless. To clothe the naked. To visit and ransom the captive, (prisoners). To visit the sick. To bury the dead.

3 Charity All people of good will are obliged to show compassion, to help persons in need Jesus’ two greatest commandments: “Do unto others... “ “Love your neighbor...” Charity is one way we share our common humanity, between giver and receiver. THEME TODAY: Charity is vitally important, but insufficie nt.

4 The Story of the Social Worker Walking along the Mississippi River near Winona, Minnesota Showing Compassion Etc. The Root of the Problem

5 Sociology and Social Structure Three Levels of Analysis: micro, meso, macro Micro Level—Individual level Meso level—Small Group level Macro level— Societal/ Cultural/Structural level

6 Focus on Institutions—especially the two most important today: Economy & Government Focus on Values—especially individualism, materialism, consumption, freedom Focus on Inequality—Poverty, Wealth, Class Focus on Power Relationships—above board (legislatures) and behind the scenes power (lobbying)

7 Charity Charity takes place at the micro and meso levels We help individuals (micro example) We help families (meso example) But why are so many young children being thrown into the Mississippi? And who (or what) is throwing them in? If we can stop or lessen them from being thrown in, we get to the ROOT of the proble m

8 Sociology and Structural Solutions Structural Solutions Address ROOT causes Why so many poor? Why so many homeless? Why so much inequality? Why so much child labor? Who so much disease? Why so much ignorance?

9 Social Justice Seeks to change institutions, values, laws, power relationships, ideologies, etc. which form the root causes of problems. Seeks to reform policies and traditions that form the root causes of problems. Seeks to reorder relationships within society that form the root causes of problems.

10 EXAMPLE: Child Labor in 1912 ● ROOT Causes of the Problem: 1. Low Wages for working fathers (economy) 2. Families need child’s income survive (economy) 3. No law prohibiting child labor (government/power) 4. No compulsory education laws (government/power) 5. Children under-valued in society (values) Micro Solution: Help an individual child (charity approach) Meso Solution: Help a family (charity approach) Macro Solution: Reform laws, raise taxes, build schools, train teachers, set standards (institutional changes)

11 Poverty and Inequality in the U.S.

12 Inequality in Western Countries

13 Poorer Poor & Richer Rich, 1975-2007

14 Income Gains, 1979-2007


16 Inequality and Social Mobility

17 The Distribution of Wealth: An Unjust Social Structure

18 Summary Charity is important & necessary Charity is founded, in large part, on compassion However, justice also relates to compassion One can show compassion for others by seeking structural changes in laws, policies, values, etc. Compassion has a structural dimension

19 Summary There is a need for both charity &justice Compassion can be shown at three levels: Micro, Meso, and Macro Individuals can act unjustly—and can change Groups can act unjustly—and can change Social structures can be unjust (apartheid, Jim Crow Laws)—and can be changed

20 Ideally, we would act compassionately at all three levels: Micro—Work to help individuals Meso—Work to help families, gangs etc. Macro—Work to reform social structures

21 Thank You!

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