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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Gary Hammons: Explaining social work for social justice

While growing up in the American South in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, I learned a great deal about the inherent evils of “social injustice.”

Every segment of society (education, economics, politics, government, law enforcement, judicial, etc.) was positioned to disenfranchise minorities, immigrants and women—“by any means necessary.”

But I wasn’t naive enough to believe that this pattern of behavior was confined to the South.

I began to search for the meaning of true “social justice” and how it affects the communities in which we live. My faith in God and my more recent association with Faith Coalition for the Common Good has helped me in my quest for understanding “social justice.”

The spirit of social justice is reflected in its mission statement: “Faith Coalition for the Common Good is an organization whose purpose is to unite congregations with other faith-based and community organizations to identify common issues of concern in central Illinois; to educate themselves and others about these issues and to work together for systemic change that will advance their shared values.”

The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of Social Justice—Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, titled “Social Work for Social Justice,” gives the following 10 principles and explanations:

Human dignity — “Dignity of the human person is the ethical foundation of a moral society.”

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