Social Justice Quotes
1. I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.
2. If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.
3. The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.
4. For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.
5. Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.
6. To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.
7. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
8. It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.
9. Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.
10. I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.
11. Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are — a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.
12. Genuine equality means not treating everyone the same, but attending equally to everyone’s different needs.
13. I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills which he cannot help. This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know. God may call any one of us to respond to some far away problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us.
14. The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?
15. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
16. Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 metre race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.
17. Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.
18. Rules of taste enforce structures of power.
19. When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.
20. In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.
21. Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.
22. The ugliest thing in America is greed, the lust for power and domination, the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth – with a capital G. ‘Progress’ in our nation has for too long been confused with ‘Growth’; I see the two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should mean, change for the better – toward social justice, a livable and open world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life. And I mean all forms, not merely the human. The grizzly, the wolf, the rattlesnake, the condor, the coyote, the crocodile, whatever, each and every species has as much right to be here as we do.
23. If you can do nothing else, do whatever is in your power to make the people in your life feel completely unashamed of who they are.
24. When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.
25. An educator should consider that he has failed in his job if he has not succeeded in instilling some trace of a divine dissatisfaction with our miserable social environment.
26. Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.
27. I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.
28. Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children may elect to do so in the future, when it will be far more riskier — and much, much harder.
29. The world howls for social justice, but when it comes to social responsibility, you sometimes can’t even hear crickets chirping.
30. The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
31. There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.
32. We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained.
33. The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself.
34. Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.
35. To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group–a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of “blackness”, “maleness”, “femaleness”, or “whiteness”
36. Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.
37. But now what? Why, now comes my master, takes me right away from my work, and my friends, and all I like, and grinds me down into the very dirt! And why? Because, he says, I forgot who I was; he says, to teach me that I am only a nigger! After all, and last of all, he comes between me and my wife, and says I shall give her up, and live with another woman. And all this your laws give him power to do, in spite of God or man. Mr. Wilson, look at it! There isn’t one of all these things, that have broken the hearts of my mother and my sister, and my wife and myself, but your laws allow, and give every man power to do, in Kentucky, and none can say to him nay! Do you call these the laws of my country? Sir, I haven’t any country, anymore than I have any father. But I’m going to have one. I don’t want anything of your country, except to be let alone,–to go peaceably out of it; and when I get to Canada, where the laws will own me and protect me, that shall be my country, and its laws I will obey. But if any man tries to stop me, let him take care, for I am desperate. I’ll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe. You say your fathers did it; if it was right for them, it is right for me!
38. In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life.
39. Power in the hands of the reformer is no less potentially corrupting than in the hands of the oppressor.
40. If your social consciousness seems stuck in 1975, 2014 is gonna be a rough ride.
41. The widely accepted assertion that, only if you let markets be will everyone be paid correctly and thus fairly, according to his worth, is a myth. Only when we part with this myth and grasp the political nature of the market and the collective nature of individual productivity will we be able to build a more just society in which historical legacies and collective actions, and not just individual talents and efforts, are properly taken into account in deciding how to reward people.
42. If there’s a place for tolerance in racial healing, perhaps it has to do with tolerating my own feelings of discomfort that arise when a person, of any color, expresses emotion not welcome in the culture of niceness. It also has to do with tolerating my own feelings of shame, humiliation, regret, anger, and fear so I can engage, not run. For me, tolerance is not about others, it’s about accepting my own uncomfortable emotions as I adjust to a changing view of myself as imperfect and vulnerable. As human.
43. We have got some very big problems confronting us and let us not make any mistake about it, human history in the future is fraught with tragedy … It’s only through people making a stand against that tragedy and being doggedly optimistic that we are going to win through. If you look at the plight of the human race it could well tip you into despair, so you have to be very strong.
44. When individuals and communities do not govern self, they risk being ruled by external forces that care less about the well-being of the village.
45. It’s not loving a man that makes life harder for gay guys, it’s homophobia. It’s not the color of their skin that makes life harder for people of color; it’s racism. It’s not having vaginas that makes life harder for women, it’s sexism. And it’s ageism, far more than the passage of time, that makes growing older harder for all of us.
46. Until our world decides that every human matters, that everyone has a right to food and safety and freedom and healthcare and equality, it is the obligation of those privileged to have food and safety and freedom and healthcare and equality to fight tirelessly for those who do not.
47. Apathy is not compatible with love
48. Perhaps there has been, at some point in history, some great power whose elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to discover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse America, because America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not to inquire too much. And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names.
49. There is a great new work before us, which is to replace with true knowledge the ignorance that has destroyed human minds. We will construct unity in a world [which] has been brutally torn apart by false divisions of race, religion, gender, nationality, and age. We will heal with unconditional love those souls whose hearts have been disfigured by hatred and loneliness.
50. Don’t sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to come along —find something and make it an opportunity.
51. Had I glimpsed just a little of the suffering I would witness and the heartbreak I would endure, I would have fled in the other direction…But I could not foresee any of these things…And many years later, with tears in my eyes, I remembered my decision to follow this God no matter what the cost.
52. They had no previous connection whatever with Connemara; but they saw connections where others who should have seen them simply looked the other way.
53. Christian hope frees us to act hopefully in the world. It enables us to act humbly and patiently, tackling visible injustices in the world around us without needing to be assured that our skill and our effort will somehow rid the world of injustice altogether. Christian hope, after all, does not need to see what it hopes for (Heb. 11:1); and neither does it require us to comprehend the end of history. Rather, it simply requires us to trust that even the most outwardly insignificant of faithful actions – the cup of cold water given to the child, the widow’s mite offered at the temple, the act of hospitality shown to the stranger, none of which has any overall strategic socio-political significance so far as we can now see – will nevertheless be made to contribute in some significant way to the construction of God’s kingdom by the action of God’s creative and sovereign grace.
54. I want it said loudly and clearly that we can define racism in many ways, but it is, in my opinion, intellectually disingenuous to define it in a way that trivializes the role that racial hatred plays. Certainly, not all racism is hate-driven, but to ignore the connection between racial hate and racism is to reduce the concept of racism to a useless theoretical abstraction.
55. It is difficult for men to measure the enormous extent of social discrimination that seems insignificant form the outside and whose moral and intellectual repercussions are so deep in woman that they appear to spring from an original nature. The man most sympathetic to women never knows her concrete situation fully.
56. Crack had a social logic to it, a specific kind of reasoning that drew from a vast well of common experience for its symbolic resonance. Crack stood for pain and power, chaos and order, the truth behind the lie. Crack was a sociolegal logic grounded in blood.
57. Our minds must be as ready to move as capital is, to trace its paths and to imagine alternative destinations.
58. The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.
59. And a human being whose life is nurtured in an advantage which has accrued from the disadvantage of other human beings, and who prefers that this should remain as it is, is a human being by definition only, having much more in common with the bedbug, the tapeworm, the cancer, and the scavengers of the deep sea.
60. No man can write who is not first a humanitarian