Our congregation has a rich history in both social action and social justice addressing both immediate needs and working toward long-term solutions guided by our faith and expressed in our UU Principles.
Social Action deals with the world as it is: providing direct assistance to people to meet their basic needs now. It tends to be one to one or for small groups of people nearby. Reading to or tutoring students at the Beardsley School, setting up apartments for arriving refugees, and providing Brown Bag Lunches to food insecure people are examples of social action in our congregation.
Social Justice is about the world as it should be: alleviating inequalities by advocating for systemic change. It’s organizing for long-term solutions that affect large groups of people or, in our case, primarily people across the state of Connecticut. It’s changing laws. It’s the work of legislative advocacy. Gun violence prevention, health insurance for immigrants, and protecting people from domestic violence are just three of the legislative efforts that we have been involved with over the years.
I am sometimes asked if when we engage in social action and social justice is that political? If by political it means improving people’s lives and working for a more just and equitable world then the answer is yes. And I would go so far as to say that our faith requires that we do so.
When we donate books to the Beardsley School Library is that political? Or Share the Plate with StreetSafe Bridgeport that works to reduces gang gun violence, is that political? Or bring Brown Bag lunches (now over 36,000!) to folks in need in Bridgeport, is that political? These are examples of social action.
Then, by extension, if we advocate in Hartford for legislation to adequately fund Bridgeport public school libraries or fund community-based gun violence prevention organizations, or for increased access to food in Bridgeport’s food deserts, is that political? These are examples of social justice.
As Reverend Alan wrote in Soundings last week, “… it is an integral part of our faith to be engaged in social action and social justice…” to which I say, so may it be and Amen!
~ David Vita