Social justice in the United States is a complex topic to address. Compared to other nations in the world, the United States is economically thriving and presents an image of endless opportunities. People from all around the world come to the United States to pursue their dreams and aspirations that they feel they cannot accomplish in their home countries. However, the United States is often closed off from the issues of social justice in other countries. Many citizens are unaware of the hunger, poverty, slavery, and the extremities of wars in other parts of the world. Much less, many people in the United States are unaware of these same issues happening in America as well. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans are living in poverty today, and 13 million of this number are children, according to The Heritage Foundation. We hear of stories of people living in poverty and we may even witness people who are living on the streets each day in our local towns, but often this information doesn't completely register with us. I can speak from personal experience that I continue to live my day-to-day life going to school, work, or church and not give much consideration to the issues of poverty, homelessness, or child abuse in my area. I'm grieved when I hear devastating statistics or tragic testimonies of people living in unjust conditions, yet often I feel directionless in trying to provide help. I think many people in the U.S. are in the same boat. Many of us are not fully informed of the populations living in poverty and many may not know where to begin to provide help.
I think participating in small groups to learn more about social justice is an effective way to broaden one's knowledge, just like the program the Heritage Foundation provides. I think these educational tools provide effective starting ground for individuals to develop an innate desire to seek social justice. Online resources such as the Seek Social Justice small group study also educate people on the various issues that run rampant in our society. Social injustice is not just the existence of poverty and people living below a certain income level. It includes single mothers struggling to survive and support their kids. It involves children going in and out of the foster care system. Women who are prostituted and exploited in the sex trade; men and women not receiving the same avenues to employment or educational opportunities; people with disabilities who face extreme challenges in achieving a higher quality of life. All of these issues and populations are just examples of what social justice looks like in our society. I think many Americans today have a small understanding of the issues at stake but could use more opportunities to get involved to contribute to the solution.
Working at small group and community levels can tremendously impact the state of social justice affairs in one's community. Churches, faith-based communities, community service groups, and schools are prime examples of areas that can work together to help people in need. Unfortunately, I can speak from firsthand experience that even community-level groups are not always aware of the issues of social justice in the United States. Once we as a nation can become educated on issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, child rights, disabilities etc., then we can use those tools to provide help to other countries in need.