OK, so I get that people feel strongly about helping the poor. I think rare is the person on either side (and all along the continuum) of the political spectrum who doesn't.
I'm not necessarily a fan of Glenn Beck; he too often uses too much extreme rhetoric for my liking.
But good grief, the responses to his recent comments on social justice (or, better said, how people are framing those comments) are also really extreme in their rhetoric, and to me missing the core point -- and missing an opportunity where we as a nation might actually have some discussions on how we really can and should help the poor.
Even before I read this quote, my thought about all of the hoopla was that many people are hearing what they want to hear in what he said, not actually addressing the core of his concern. Reading this strengthened that opinion for me:
"Social justice is code language. Code language for big government… If your church is preaching social and economic justice you better do some digging and find out exactly what that means. Because if that means big government, (that) you need to support big government programs, (then) you don’t have a church… Now if your church is talking about social justice in a way that you empower yourself to go help the poor, well then that is exactly what Jesus… would like you to do.”
– Glenn Beck, March 12 radio program (hat tip for the quote comes from a comment here)
Does he dismiss social justice outright? No. Does he show ignorance about the notion that helping the poor is important to religions? No. Is he really saying something so outrageous? I don't think so.
Here, I hear him encouraging people to think about what social justice means -- because it means different things to different people and faiths -- and to figure out if it's really a good thing in every context.
What is so crazy about that?
I understand disagreeing with his politics, but so many really emotional reactions to his comments don't seem to me to be hearing what he is saying at all and don't really even address the politics he takes a stand on.
In Anatomy of Peace language (a book that I think should be required reading for everyone), that's called being in the box. And it's pretty much like shutting off your heart AND your brain.
Such a dynamic plagues the political process. But it's such a precious waste of time and energy, and clouds the ability to actually think clearly about things like this that matter.
We've got to get outside the box.
For Mormons, to me, a compelling point when engaging in politics is to note that the First Presidency has reminded us that "“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of various political parties."
So I say let's seek for good, solid principles across the spectrum, rather than waste precious time slinging mud at the "other" -- especially when that mud-slinging often involves arguing against things that weren't actually the real message of what was said.