This year’s theme for World Day of Social Justice is “preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work.” This idea that channeling compassion and disdain for injustice into meaningful and sustainable work is one that resonates strongly with me as a graduate of a Jesuit institution. Being a “woman for others” was a core element of what it meant to be a Boston College student. I continue to carry that mindset with me and wholeheartedly believe that our vocation should in some way contribute to making the world much better for those who are most affected by systems of oppression.
Yet, even in the most powerful country in the world, justice for all continues to be aspirational. The prevention of conflict becomes ever more difficult to sustain.
We continue to dehumanize black lives. Slavery. Jim Crow. Mass incarceration. Disproportionate police brutality. And we have the nerve to respond to the evolving oppression of our black brothers and sisters with “All lives matter.” Is that social justice?
We encourage the implementation of policy that literally calls for the banning and rounding up of human beings. But when we hear dissent we respond by calling people terrorists and spelling out the word LEGAL in capital letters as if that somehow justifies mass deportation of children who’ve only ever known the U.S. as home. Is that social justice?
We displace our native sisters and brothers from their land for profit and when they peacefully protest, we militarize and intimidate. Is that social justice?
We ridicule our brothers and sisters for loving who they love and expect our educators in same-sex relationships to hide their true identity to protect our religious upbringing.
That is not justice.
So on World Day of Social Justice, let’s take a moment to reflect on the injustices happening across the world, but also right here at home. If you’re feeling rage and frustration about the state of our world, link up with an organization that is working to affect change for the communities you care about. Let compassion and bold action be your guide.
There is always more work to be done. You ready?
Stephanie Gonzalez was born and raised in Central Falls, attended Boston College as an undergrad, but inspired by the changes in her hometown, she returned home in hopes of playing a role in the City's transformation. Seeing education as one of the most important needs in the community, Stephanie was appointed to the Central Falls School Board of Trustees in 2011 and is currently the Associate Director of Partnerships at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy. Stephanie sits on numerous boards and commissions across the state including Girls on the Run Rhode Islandy, RI Commission on Women, Sophia Academy, and Central Falls City Council.