What's the difference between personal sin and systemic sin? Does systemic sin even matter, or should be all only worry about our own personal sin? Sometimes systems are hard to see, and we'd rather pretend they weren't there. Here's some examples to start thinking about it:
Individual Sin -- Systemic Sin
a teen thinks sexual thoughts about a classmate -- women are objectified in movies and advertising
a cop commits a murder -- the cop is rewarded rather than penalized
a woman is raped -- the rapist goes free, media says she "asked for it"
a pastor has an affair -- church covers it up and sends family away
a business person cheats -- cheating is encouraged in the whole company
a prison guard abuses an inmate --the prison doesn't investigate
a school bully threatens a child -- both children are punished; teacher says "I don't care who started it."
a man sexually harasses a coworker -- victim is told to find a job somewhere else if she can't handle it
a slum lord evicts a poor person -- no one else will rent to her now
a college student says a racial slur -- his fraternity sings a song full of slurs about how they won't let minorities into their frat
an administrator tosses a resume with a "black name" -- she was told to do so by her superior
an grandmother makes a joke about another ethnic group -- everyone chuckles and doesn't speak up
a famous athlete commits domestic violence -- the sports team says his personal life is "none of our business"
a young woman is tricked into prostitution -- her religious upbringing tells her she no longer has value
a man is given an excessive prison sentence for drug use -- he never gets help for his addiction and is labeled a convict forever
a doctor insults a person's weight/size -- person doesn't get treatment for her actual illness or injury- her weight gets blamed for everything
a politician sleeps with prostitutes -- his voters justify it because they like his policies
a man emotionally abuses his wife -- her church tells her to submit and obey him
an elected official wants more power -- voting restrictions stop a citizen from voting
I tell you my story of being hurt and you don’t believe me -- and you teach others not to believe me either
Thoughts on words:
Systemic: root word is system. Although a system can't sin, sinful people create systems which propagate sin.
Communal: root word also gives us community. Same concept as system, but could have a more personal feel. Systems can be better at hiding sin, like boxing up many people into prison. Perhaps communal sin should be easier to see. Family sins also are a very personal form of communal sin.
Sin: These are all sins related to Injustice, and can be explained as Systemic Injustice for a less religious take on the issue.
Required reading: "My sin is not just my own"