By Mickey Skidmore, ACSW

One of the fundamental values shared by many Social Workers is “Social Justice”. Many with an awareness of social justice are drawn to the field of Social Work. And as part of their Social Work education, this value is further instilled as part of their overall experience. In honor of National Social Work Month, this month’s “Perspective” is reprinting an editorial published in The East Carolinian in 1982-83 during my Junior year of East Carolina’s Social Work Program, reflecting my expression of social justice at the time. The reader can decide for themselves whether or not this expression remains relevant in today’s political climate. As described then, what follows is a “modern parallel” to the 13th Chapter of Paul’s letter to Corinth.

Now, I will show you the ways that we have not surpassed those before us. If we have the technology to advance to higher levels of civilization but do not share with the world, we are but hoarding Capitalists, a selfish monstrosity. If we have the gift of freedom, and, with full knowledge, understand that responsibility, yet we build and stockpile massive, destructive, immoral nuclear weapons to keep this freedom with the cost of social and human deprivation to the rest of the world, we are only fooling ourselves. If we have an abundance of both monetary and environmental wealth, with the capabilities to put food in very person’s stomach and knowledge at every person’s fingertips, but instead choose false priorities, have we not, in fact, regressed?

Freedom is opportunity; the opportunity for everyone to become unequal. Freedom is there for everyone, whether poverty-stricken or not; it sees not the inequality it often creates. Freedom is never wrong. The end always justifies the means. It never puts the burden on those too weak to carry for the few encompassing populous it serves; neither does it brood on the social cost of our philosophy of Social Darwinism. We do not rejoice the fact that 50,000 people will die of starvation today, but rather with brainwashing rhetoric that we need more an more nuclear bombs to secure our freedom so we can feed ourselves. There is no limit to our insight, our righteousness hierarchy of priorities, our phobic reactions to communism, socialism and the power of the Pentagon.

Social injustice never ends. Technology will continue to advance; the gift of freedom will be protected with yet thousands more nuclear weapons. But will we ever be able to solve the real atrocities of this life? Technology will peak; computers do break down. When the perfect computer is designed, human unemployment will peak at revolutionary heights. Two thousand years ago, when the human race was younger, we had the same underlying problems; social injustice, inequality, and a false sense of priorities. As we have grown up 2,000 years, we see we have advanced so little. Now, we see indistinctly — if we look — as in a mirror; only then can we see face to face. Are we really free now? And have we really progressed? There are, in the end, three things that last: poverty, social injustice, and the military budget. And the greatest of these is our acceptance of them.