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My all-time favorite quote comes from St. Augustine (354-430), who said: “Charity is no substitute for justice.”
This quote goes straight to one of the root problems of today’s neoliberal thought. Way too many people in this world think that because they give alms, they are doing their part.
Perhaps a better analogy for today is, “I posted about it on Facebook, so I did something.” In fact, charity is easy. Justice is hard.
Here are some examples: You donate to the clothing drive at the local “poor school,” but you will not fight for redistricting and rezoning that eliminates the existence of the “poor school.” That is charity, not justice.
You volunteer at a food bank, but you will not support a higher minimum wage. That is charity, not justice.
You donate money to veterans’ groups, but you fail to speak out against unjust wars. That is charity, not justice.
Your city council sponsors the local Juneteenth celebration, but refuses to take seriously issues of disproportionate minority contact. That is charity, not justice.
Charity is generally a good thing. It is critical for individuals in the moment. But we must not lose sight of the march toward justice. We must not allow charitable good works to clear our consciences and pretend we have somehow done our part. Not until justice is served.
Listen to board meetings
People interested in county government should take the time to listen to and/or watch a meeting. The Thursday, Sept. 20 meeting is a great example.
You can get there from the county homepage johnson-county.com. There are both formal and informal meetings; be sure to listen to formal.
The meeting is about 55 minutes long; the first 25 minutes are a series of three proclamations: Fall Prevention Awareness, Food Rescue Awareness, and International Day of Peace. Feel free to listen to those if you are interested in those topics. The rest of the meeting – 30 minutes – is more representative of a typical county meeting.