Building a more just society is not merely a worthwhile or admirable thing to do; it’s an essential component of both our Baptismal Covenant and our Marks of Mission.
By Irene Moore Davis
Еvery year on February 20, the World Day of Social Justice is observed.
This international day is an opportunity to promote social justice while encouraging everyone to look with fresh eyes at issues such as poverty, unemployment and underemployment, gender inequality, discrimination, and other forms of inequity.
The World Day of Social Justice is an opportunity to uplift the dignity of all human beings, the concept of the common good, workers’ rights, justice for everyone including those living on the margins, opportunities for full and productive employment, poverty reduction strategies, peace and security, and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Despite the progress that has been made in Canada’s laws and human rights codes protecting 2SLGBTQ+ people, many continue to experience marginalization in real terms. Members of queer and trans* communities consistently face lower incomes, less secure employment, and less financial security, and are more susceptible to homelessness and insecure housing. Rates of unemployment, underemployment, and poverty are especially high among trans+ community members. There is growing evidence that inequities faced by queer and trans* Canadians in the pre-pandemic area have been exacerbated in this time of COVID-19.
For example, Egale Canada has estimated that one half of 2SLGBTQ+ households experienced lay-offs or reduced employment in the first wave, as compared to 39% of all Canadian households. Isolation at home, a challenge for most of us during the pandemic, has compelled many 2SLGBTQ+ youth to choose between living in unsupportive, hostile households or pursuing less secure housing where they can (perhaps) live authentically. For 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians who have intersecting identities, complex layers of inequality have created even greater challenges.
Building a more just society is not merely a worthwhile or admirable thing to do; it’s an essential component of both our Baptismal Covenant and our Marks of Mission. On this World Day of Social Justice, consider how we, as people of faith, can move towards truly loving our neighbours as ourselves by continuously striving to overcome unconscious bias. Think about how transforming unjust structures and challenging violence of every kind could be implemented on a personal level: might they mean deeper, more intentional efforts to avoid language that renders 2SLGBTQ+ people invisible within our faith communities and beyond, casting aside heteronormative language that reinforces gender binaries and fosters exclusion in favour of inclusive language that reflects diverse identities and promotes inclusion? Reflect on the ways we can strive for justice and peace among all people, all week long, by creating and supporting inclusive cultures in our workplaces and communities. Consider how our commitment to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God might lead us to demonstrate humility and sincerity in our tone and approach when interacting with members of marginalized populations, including those excluded from positions of power or privilege because of sexual orientation, sex assigned at birth, gender identity or expression. When endeavouring to respect the dignity of every human being, evaluate the degree to which we practice active allyship on a day-to-day basis, and what our daily actions say about who we value and care about in society.
Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth.
Irene Moore Davis (she/her/hers, ally) is an educator, historian, and activist, a member of All Saints’ Windsor, a lay representative on the Proud Anglicans of Huron Committee, and an appointee to the Dismantling Racism Task Force.