By Marianne Comfort, Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team
Sometimes the interconnecting pieces of economic and environmental injustices are hard to fit together, and the whole puzzle can seem overwhelming when it does come into focus. How refreshing, then, to have Loyola University-New Orleans law professor Bill Quigley, who is also associate director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, create a list of the 10 top steps needed for the U.S. to achieve true justice and peace.
It certainly doesn’t make the goal any easier to achieve. Still, it’s helpful to have the steps laid out there so that we can see them and then begin chipping away at them
Some of the steps come right out of the founding statement of Faith, Economy, Ecology, Transformation. Among them:
- Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights, so the U.S. needs to amend the Constitution to make this clear.
- When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights.
- Earth must be defended by stopping pollution, pipelines, new interstates, and the destruction of the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them.
- Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatization of public services such as education, health and safety.
- Allow everyone who wants to work to do so and earn a living wage, and protect the right to labor organizing and collective bargaining.
Quigley told Jesuit Father John Dear, for a National Catholic Reporter blog posting, that to realize the goal of true justice and peace first requires nourishing hope. Then it requires working with others and in many different ways.
“There is no solo social justice act,” Quigley said. “First, you have to work with other people. Second, the history of social change shows we have to work on several different levels. Some take direct action through personal risk to raise the profile of the problem. Others educate, and education is critical. Most are appalled when they learn about what is happening. Then, we need to create opportunities through organizing so that people can engage the issue. Then there’s outreach to be done — to legislatures, to the media, to the churches. Social justice advances happen when many people are committed to this and work on all these levels. Right now, all of these 10 points have people working on them. We just need more people working on them.”
He also said that people have to look to the long term, not just to the next election or next legislative session. And they have to work both at the local and national levels.
“I don’t think there’s one strategy,” Quigley said. “I think there are lots of strategies. The civil rights movement had a national strategy to force the agenda upon the government and the media. But a lot of change is based at the local level. We see it with the Occupy movement, with the Tar Sands movement, with the work of anti-war people. People are trying to push the questions on to the national agenda. The Republican debates show that the Republicans are trying to go backward, not to push for the transformation of the nation, but the restoration of the way the U.S. was years ago. It will take a lot of people to put in a lot of work to get our agenda out there. For most of us, that means working at the local level, but we need to be connected to national and international work.”