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Social Work and Social Justice

March 27, 2008

In my process to figure out my calling I’ve thought much about becoming a full-time social worker. Although I’m realizing that social work takes many forms. So what is social work exactly? It is the same as social justice?

Just last week I heard about a woman whose Dad taught her to smoke crack. That ticks me off. She hates him for it, yet she still smokes with him on occasion. It makes her miserable because she doesn’t like the way she views herself because of doing this. So why does she still make the decision to use the drug? Is it because as much as she believes that her dad is a terrible dad, she still wants some sort of love and respect from him? Things that he will never give her.
I translate for the John School, a court-ordered program for men who have been arrested soliciting prostitution. Now that brings many stories, but the one of interest is the woman who talks to them about her former life as a prostitute. She will tell you that she would do whatever it took to fulfill her need for drugs. Then she continues to say that what she was really looking for was love and acceptance, which she thought came from drugs, then men, but those didn’t fill the emptiness in her life. She was raised (if you could call it that) by parents who didn’t really exist in her life.
Then there are those who have mental illnesses and can’t care for themselves,or those who have been abused so badly they don’t have the physical ability to trust, and those who have made so many bad decisions in their life that their choices leave them always wanting.

How many stories are there? Too many too think about. Where is justice for people whose lives have brought them experiences that many of us don’t want to consider? Can I as a social worker bring justice, or is it just a Band-Aid?
If Christ brings true justice, and I do my best to love people in a way that brings Christ to them, I believe that is pursuit of justice. But quite often I will be doing no more than allowing certain people to make it to the next day in their lives. Where is the justice in that?

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