Everyone is using the phrase social justice these days.
For some it means making up for past wrongs. Others suggest social justice is an action plan where goods are given to poor people or nations. Still more think it is enough to have social justice as a part of their college mission statements. The wealthy wrongly believe that their social generosity ends with what they can write off on their taxes. The poor wrongly expect justice is government serving as the nanny state for life. Stories such as Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol or the recent film Precious demonstrate both problems with social justice: government is not our nanny and the wealthy should be more generous.
Now some contend that rich companies like Google or Microsoft set the standard for giving to the poor and treating their employees well. But I would like to remind us of another story; one by which all standards of social justice can be measured. This company was originally founded over 200 years ago. Workers enjoyed the attention of two fully qualified doctors who staffed an onsite clinic where any employee, wife, child, widow, or pensioner could receive treatment. Health care included two dentists, two pharmacists, two nurses, and a masseuse. Retirees received pensions without having to make contributions of their own. The company provided a savings bank on site and contributed to a fund from which workers could borrow to purchase houses. The corporation paid for employees to attend technical schools, funding more advanced education for those who wanted it. A lending library, musical society, lounges for contemplation, and athletic leagues were maintained on site. Every employee was paid to take his family on holidays. In addition, each employee received an extra week’s wages above and beyond his normal pay to celebrate a jubilee. When its employees were called up to serve in the military, their families continued to collect a salary and the worker’s job awaited them after their term of service.
Personal care of employees was augmented by building museums, libraries, and public housing in the company’s locale. City squalor and disease was turned back by this company’s own version of “urban renewal.” From their efforts, modern versions of The Red Cross were established. One of the sons of the owner, receiving millions of dollars on his wedding day, moved into a house in his city’s slums and started a series of programs for the poor. And lest those listening think that the company’s fortune of which I speak produced a product unfit for people, in 2003 the University of Wisconsin reported that a pint of Guinness beer a day is good for the human heart. That’s right, I said Guinness beer. You can read the story for yourself in Stephen Mansfield’s book The Search for God and Guinness. Find out what true social justice looks like. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
Mark does not drink Guinness, but Guinness is his favorite example of social justice. Heard on Moody Radio, 26 July 2010. Dr. Mark Eckel, Professor of Leadership, Education & Discipleship, Capital Seminary & Graduate School.