CESJ recognizes that the world’s complex economic and social problems cannot be solved in a single stroke or with a single solution. There is no panacea.
On the other hand, CESJ’s concept of social justice, as developed and refined by our co-founder, the late Rev. William Ferree, addresses the structuring of institutions (laws, systems, social organizations, etc.) and how they enhance or degrade the sovereignty and dignity of the individuals affected by them.
By targeting institutions in society which are defective and unjust, social justice identifies the structural causes of economic and social problems, not just their symptoms. Through democratic processes and by combining their individual strengths, concerned individuals can act in positive ways to bring about seemingly impossible changes in the social order.
CESJ defines the “act of social justice” as the moral virtue or good habit exercised when a person acts with others in an organized way to perfect the social order or any part of it within their reach.
Transforming bad laws and unjust institutions is impossible when each person acts in isolation or only for his own welfare. But together, organizing around common moral principles and a shared vision, people can convert social structures of exploitation and alienation into structures of justice.
America was born through acts of social justice. This is how racial barriers in the U.S. were lifted in the 1960s. And this is how in the 1990s communism was toppled in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and apartheid was ended in South Africa.
Implicit in any act of social justice is a recognition that improving the social order or an institution is a never-ending task. This is because human beings and human creations (including laws and institutions) are inherently imperfect. Hence, while we can never expect to achieve perfection, we have a moral responsibility to pursue justice.