Exploring Human Dignity and Social Justice

1. a) Create an original piece of work that relates ideas or themes from the book of the year ‘Beartown’ to the CST principles.

Growing up as a child, the belief of human person as a reflection of God’s presence in the world promoted and protected the dignity of every individual. As we respond to the world around us, this makes a rather comprehensive statement. This book of Beartown was focused on the declining youth hockey team in a small town after an incidence of rape tore down everything the team had worked hard for. This is reminds me of an incidence that happened back in senior school some years back, where a student committed suicide after a series of bullying incidences that the school and parents failed to recognise. Student bullying is common in schools and these perpetrators express greater social and physical power that the victims by being aggressive.


The student was a female aged 16 and lived with her mother who was busy most of the times as she had to work two jobs in order to pay their bills. She displayed no sign of bullying but in most cases she was isolating herself from others. On other days she would miss school and was unhappy and never participated in any school activity. The information about her bullying only came out after the note she wrote before she committed suicide. Failure by the school administration and her mother to identify this malintent and imbalance of power led to distress and her only option was to commit suicide.

According to the suicide note, she was bullied emotionally as her bullies said hurtful words and spread rumours about her. Unfortunately, the real identity of her bullies was unknown which made it hard for justice to be served. However much was learnt from that very day and security measures were beefed up to ensured that bullying is controlled. Anti-bullying laws were reported and documented listing the consequences of bullying and counselling offered to the bullied studies.

b) Write a personal reflection of the work created, explaining the relationship between your created work, ideas or themes you have chosen in relation to the book.

When it comes to cyber bullying, verbal or physical bullying I would say I understood the trauma and distress these victims go through from the incidence that happened in senior school and in the book too. Bullying is common in schools and at times it is hard to recognise when students are being bullied. These students end up losing hope in the system that is meant to offer them protection. the book of Beartown is centred on a rape case issue the ends up destroying the career and efforts of others such as Peter Anderson Maya’s father who is also the general manager of the ice hockey team. The junior star hockey player Kevin who commits the rape is kicked from the team when the truth is brought out.

The theme of truth is highlighted in both scenarios when the bullied girl who committed suicide leaves a note behind of why she killed herself and in the book when Maya’s family finally decides to report the rape case despite the fact that it would destroy any shot Kevin had at hockey. However in both scenarios justice fails to prevail due to lack of evidence. The bullies are not identified while according to the book, Kevin is seen to have a happy ending, gets married and lives in the same town as Maya.

In most cases justice fails to prevail in these instances and these perpetrators walk free and continue to bully other students. The Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is designed to ensure that the dignity of every person is protected. In this book, the theme of justice, truth and trauma has been clearly brought out. Maya Anderson the 15 year old kid who was raped by the hockey star Kevin Erdahl fails to get justice due to lack of evidence even after the truth was told.

In the book, Maya is seen to be traumatized by the event and fails to tell her parents immediately after she was raped. The girl goes through trauma and fantasizes about exerting revenge on Kevin by attempting to kill him. Maya asks her best friend Ana for help on how to use a gun fails to tell Ann what she plans and confronts Kevin, it was fortunate enough that Ann did not load the cartridge. Kevin was torn by the truth and begs for forgiveness. Maya is also struck by the realization that the fear that was displayed in Kevin’s eyes was enough to haunt him for the rest of his life same way the rape incidence will haunt her.

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The moment I read this book I nearly called it quits with the justice system as to me it appeared that the victims of rape, discrimination and bully will never get the justice they sought but the moment I reached the end, I was relieved and disappointed at the same time. Justice was not served but both Maya and Kevin learnt to live with the incidence and ten years later they both move on with their lives and Maya pursues her music career and Kevin finds love.

Because we are created in the image and likeness of God there need to respect human life and dignity which are the two main principles of Catholic social justice. Every individual deserves respect by virtue of being human. From the moment of conception to death, every individual has an inherent dignity and a right to live. Contrary to the CST a life was lost when the bullied student committed suicide while in the book Kevin was almost killed by Maya who was also thinking of ending her life as she could not bear it.

The principle of association is highlighted in the event of the student who committed suicide as a result of being bullied by fellow students. This proves that there was a poor social relationship between the students and hence bullying. Humans are considered not only as sacred beings but social beings. In an attempt of making decisions about ourselves, one should consider how this decisions impacts on the lives of other people. There was no justice for the student who committed suicide, the oppressors went free.

A third principle of preferential option for the poor and vulnerable is cast out in the two scenarios. The student who commits suicide is seen to be living with her mom who struggles her way through by working two jobs in order to survive. In this modern world, there is a continued deepening division between the rich and the poor. The CST reminds us God is always with the less fortunate people in the society. In the book, Amat is a 15 year old who lives with his mother who struggles through poverty and works as a custodian at the hockey club. On the other hand, Kevin Erdahl seems to come from a wealthy family as is seen to throw a party the night of the semi-final victory, which is the same night he rapes Maya.

Hope is always something that victims need during the hardship time as it keeps them going. I was moved by the ending of this book as I never expected Kevin will have a happy ending. The hope of him having a happy life never crossed my mind as I read the story. It is hope for a better future that made Maya forgive Kevin as she also deserved the peace in order to heal.


Backman, F. (2019). Beartown. Simon & Schuster.

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