Christina McIntyre, is a first year Politics major from Maryland. A few weeks ago, Christina visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol for a YWCA advocacy breakfast. She wrote a response for the event that she has graciously contributed to our blog. (Here is also a recent photo of her with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley).
The United States increasingly advanced civil liberties and social justice in the twentieth century, from the progressive reforms of the early 1900s to the civil rights movement. However, as the nation committed to freedom and justice for all crosses the threshold of the twenty-first century, social injustices still persist. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The social injustices of the twenty-first century United States may not be as pronounced as child labor, segregation, or the disenfranchisement of women, but social injustices occur daily in our homes and on our streets. The political framework significantly impacts the social order of society, and engaging the legislative process through advocacy for the advancement of social justice greatly promotes a more just and compassionate society.
I recently had the opportunity to witness legislative advocacy for social policy firsthand at the Pennsylvania YWCA’s advocacy breakfast. Dr. Robin Lauermann, Assistant Dean of General Education and Common Learning and an Associate Professor of Politics at Messiah College, invited me and several other students to attend this annual event at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. The YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, and freedom for all. YWCA leaders from across the state of Pennsylvania as well as leaders from the Pennsylvania Child Care Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly came together at the Capitol to promote this mission through legislative engagement.
The leaders who spoke emphasized the importance of racial justice, women’s empowerment, and childcare services, sharing personal experiences, statistics, and policy information. Dr. Lauermann, a member of the Greater Harrisburg YWCA’s Public Policy Advocacy Committee, discussed the policy matters on the YWCA’s agenda with us, including childcare, sexual assault domestic violence services, and mental health policies. She described these policy matters as “valence” political issues: nonpartisan issues uniformly supported by the electorate. The debate over these social policies therefore assumes their importance and examines how these social needs can most effectively be addressed through the political structure.
As Christians, God calls us to advance social justice, instructing us to “seek justice, correct oppression… bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s case” (Isaiah 1:16-17). We must reach out to the dis-empowered, marginalized, and hurting members of society with love, and we must “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8). Engaging the legislative process by advocating for social policies that promote a more just and compassionate society multiplies loving our neighbor by sharing love with all of society through the political structure.
Thank you, Christina, for sharing your thoughts on faith and political life. We wish you the best of luck in your next few years at Messiah College!
Readers, this is our last official blog of the semester. Stay with us as we embark on a new school year in 2013-2014. In the meantime we bid farewell to our graduating seniors and the rest of the Class of 2013.