Social teaching or social learning

Steve Atherton, Justice & Peace fieldworker from Liverpool Archdiocese reflects on CST.

What is the difference between teaching and learning. It’s tempting to think that they are just different sides of the same coin but teaching is useless unless someone learns something…Eventually, I started to apply this to myself and I wondered about how I know when I’ve learned something. I decided that when I’ve learned something I become different because learning leads to change: change in the way I think, in the way I look at things, in the way I behave, in the things that I do and in the way that I feel.

I wonder what sort of changes will follow from learning about CST?  Here’s a possible way of looking at how teaching and learning might follow from the five main principles of CST:

1. The Principle of Human Dignity

Do I treat people with dignity, those close at hand and those overseas?

2. The Principle of the Common Good

Are my actions aimed at satisfying my own wants and needs or do I consider the needs of the planet and other people?

3. The Principle of Solidarity

Do I feel fellowship with other people and do I act from this feeling?

4 The Principle of Subsidiarity

Do I take part in decision making or am I always willing to let others take the responsibility while I just grumble about what is happening?

5. The Principle of Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Do I consider the needs of the poor when I’m spending my money and making political choices?
Does this call for changes in the way in which I practise my faith? It won’t be easy. Isn’t there always room for increased concern for others and for acknowledging the importance of love and compassion in my daily life?  These are all questions that we can learn from.


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