In his book, Doing Faithjustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought, Fred Kammer speaks eloquently about individuals who practice advocacy outside of institutions. “The outsiders,” he explains, “are free to raise hell, demonstrate, picket, issue studies and denunciations, and go to jail to challenge the status quo. They are essential to change and little of it takes place without their gentle-or-not prodding. They make the news, and are often the heroines and heroes whose quotations fill our posters and prayer cards. Few of us—too few—will rise to the noteworthy status of holy outsiders!” Insiders have inspired scores of people to change: themselves, their professions, their neighborhoods…and, in some cases, even the broader structures that constitute their communities.
The “insider” works in a rather opposite manner. Kammer describes the task of the “insider” in the following way: “The insiders speak a different language (than the outsider): they know the tax tables, the zoning variations, the assessment equalizers, the square-foot cost to educate kids. You’ll find them on the school board, city government, on the village board.” Sometimes, the “insider” is able to translate the demands of the “outsider” into law.
According to Kammer, both outsiders and insiders are necessary for creating lasting change. As Kammer explains more generally, “The one prophetically denounces evil and announces the outlines of the Reign of God, and the other works out the actual how-to in the midst of often complex structural realities.” Unfortunately, these parties are often at odds. Yet, as Kammer concludes, “Each could find additional strength in their chosen way of proceeding if they could learn how to cooperate with one another more than usually occurs.” Indeed, cooperation among all people of good will is necessary to humanize institutions and to fashion social structures that are just.
See the conclusion to Fred Kammer’s Doing Faithjustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought (Paulist, 2004).
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Religious Studies.