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I believe that all of the Franciscan values should be important. All though, I feel that showing compassion for one another is by far the most meaningful value that one should practice throughout life. I feel that this one value encompasses all of the other values in one way or another. By serving and caring for the poor and oppressed people of the world, we are helping them to see that they are not alone in their troubles. It helps to show them that they are worthy of respect and dignity. By caring for people that do not have the means to care for themselves we are creating a caring Community, because when people are given a helping hand when it is needed they are more likely to do the same for someone else. By working for justice in all aspects of life, not just legal justice, you naturally become a peace maker. Justice can take many forms. It can be making sure women and minorities are treated equally in the work place. It can be making sure that children are raised in a safe and loving environment. It is not just making sure that things are fair or just in the legal sense.
Justice is also about resolving differences between people, be it religious, political or any of the other perceived differences that we have as humans. Justice also involves healing and reconciliation between the victims and perpetrators of crimes so that they can both return to being productive members of society. Taking responsible social action is directly tied to a reverence for all of creation. Social Responsibility is so important, yet is rarely practiced these days. Not only by our businesses or our political leaders but also individuals. It is easy to criticize the big business that creates a toxic waste dump or the government agency that allows poorly tested drugs out into the market place, but we are just as guilty as individuals by becoming a consumer society.
We no longer repair things that don’t work. We just throw them away and buy new. I think that social responsibility, if you are a bag boy at a grocery store or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, starts at home. If you are socially responsible enough to care about recycling your plastic pop bottle at home, chances are you will also care about the chemicals that you are putting into the air and water from your company. I would have to say though that the most gratifying feelings that a person can have come from compassionate unselfish service to others. Weather you are feeding the homeless or helping to reconcile the differences between two people or even just recycling that plastic bottle, doing so not because you have to or because you will be rewarded, but just because it is the right thing to do is the best feeling there is.