As we share life together in our earth community, we live in a manner which respects all being as sacred.
In our everyday choices and actions, personally and collectively, our conscious desire to “become the change we seek” moves us towards transformation, towards the well-being of all the earth community. We believe that transformation comes from changes made at the root of unjust systems.
Office for Systemic Justice
Our Office for Systemic Justice is an expression of the Congregation’s mandate to live out our contemplative spirituality in ways that bring about systemic justice. We do this through research, political advocacy, activism and education.
We, along with our Associates/Companions, collaborate with others to address many of the emerging needs of our society:
- poverty reduction
- human trafficking
- ecology (environment, climate change, food security)
Follow our blogs on these important issues.
What is a Systemic Approach to Justice?
The world is shaped by systems: eco-systems (e.g. Carolinian forest), economic systems (e.g. capitalism), political systems (e.g. parliamentary democracy), cultural systems (e.g. postmodern ways of looking at life), social systems (e.g. a city), religious systems (e.g. Roman Catholicism). Like all systems, these systems behave as a “whole” but they are also “nested,” so it is helpful to remember that, no matter what system we’re looking at, it is made up of smaller systems and also is part of larger systems.
Systems-thinking is a way of thinking about the world:
- It acknowledges the complex nature of society and earth community. It urges us to see things in relationship. How are individual or local behaviours influenced by the wider context? What roles are being played by human consciousness and culture (assumptions, beliefs, values).
- It looks at social patterns in order to understand the underlying structures that support the patterns of interaction. For example, when we stand with people who are experiencing poverty, we begin to see barriers to social and economic inclusion. By studying these patterns, we can come to understand how systemic structures are creating these barriers.
- It explores justice issues (e.g. poverty) from many different angles or perspectives, identifying the diverse factors that contribute to the problem and seeing how these factors interact.
A systemic approach to justice uses this “way of thinking” in order to identify root causes. Once we understand how diverse factors interact with each other, we can work toward change by identifying key leverage points for shifting systems. Often the work of systemic justice takes us into dialogue with politicians and their policy staff because government policies are structures that can create barriers if the policy makers are not attentive to how the policy affects marginalized groups or sensitive bio-regions.
At the core, systemic justice is about transformation or deep change. The Office for Systemic Justice integrates contemplation and justice by focusing on the connections between the change that is needed in the world and the change that is needed in ourselves. In this way, we open ourselves to enter the depth and breadth of the transformations into which we are called.