20 February 2014

BIRTHING A JUST SOCIETY (For World Day of Social Justice)

 Guest Writer: Toromade Samson

image Credit: pakedu.net
Let’s play a game. I can’t promise it will be fun, but I can promise it is a game. Call your 10-year-old sibling, ask him/her to mention three memorable, acknowledged days in the world. I just called mine (who is actually 12), and he mentioned "Easter, Valentine’s Day and Nigeria’s Independence Day". Christmas is conspicuously absent from his list and I have no idea why Christmas won’t make a 12-year-old’s top list of 'memorable days'. I know it’d make the first three in mine. But I think if I allowed him more than three slots, he’d reach number one hundred without including  World Day of Social Justice.

The first time I heard about social justice was a month ago, and it rang as much bell to me as a deaf person at a rackety Eminem concert. And even though you’d like to question why a deaf person would go to a musical concert, it’s not the focus of this article. A day of nail-biting and furious googling later, I became well-equipped to write an article about it. So, here, I’m going to claim the intellectual high ground and ask you, dear reader, how much do you know about social justice?

Image Credit: hmjs-ng
To save you the stress of a boring Google search, the World Day of Social Justice was instituted by the United Nations’ General Assembly on 26 November 2007 as a global mission to foster the promotion of full employment, poverty eradication, gender equity, access to social well being, and a peaceful and prosperous co-existence within and among nations. Social justice is a distant cousin of human rights as it echoes the stance that all human beings are born equal, and therefore, equal in dignity and rights. It advocates fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc. are to be treated equally and without prejudice.

Social justice believes  in creating a society that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, fairness and mutual obligation in the society, where we are responsible for one another, and ensure that all have equal chances to succeed in life. Basically, social justice is aimed at human development in various sectors of human dealings. It is observed worldwide every February 20th.

Now, unlike most holidays (World Day of Social Justice isn’t even an holiday) where the mass murder of animals are a pass time, monkeys aren’t slaughtered as peace offerings to the Greek goddess of peace, Eirene, on World Day of Social Justice. Instead, institutions are urged to organise awareness programs to sensitise the global population about how social justice is integral to achieving and maintaining peace and security between and among individuals, as well as nations across the world. It’s a day marked to reflect on the state of the world and how we need to be more people-oriented to create a more balanced world.

If we lived in a perfect world, there won’t be starving children in Somalia, or Mali, or India; there won’t be armed discontent masses in Syria; or systematically-disadvantaged women in the Arab worlds; or sweatshirt shops in Asia; racism won’t exist in the dictionary; and there won’t be so many unemployed people across the world prowling the streets, desperate and dissatisfied with the system. Basically, there wouldn’t be a reason for World Day of Social Justice is all I’m saying.

Image Credit: loveisdelight
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), we don’t live in a perfect world, so we have all these flaws in the system, we have an imperfect world that needs a lot of fine-tuning. These imperfections are what the UN hopes to address with the World Day of Social Justice every February 20th, to reflect on them, and ruminate on how to make things better, and create a less imperfect world.

Let’s get personal: When was the last time you did anything for anyone other than yourself? When was the last time you gave someone a job because they truly deserved it, and not because you both came from the same village, while you dismissed better qualified applicants? Have you ever denied someone something because they were too Muslim, or too Christian, or too Northern, or too…female? Ever discriminated against anyone because they didn’t seem ‘normal’ like you?

The problem is not how the society is, it’s about how the people living in it have decided to set it up and operate it. To create a ‘society for all’, it will take a lot of tolerance and selflessness to break down barriers and ensure nobody gets left behind. You could stay glued to your device here all day reading about social justice or you could actually go out there and do something about it today, tomorrow, and every 365 days of the year. Or 366. 

Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society they live, and the only way society can be just is if individuals are just.

Toromade Samson likes to think of himself as a writer and blogs at krypstoy.wordpress.com. You can follow him on twitter as @sammoyd where he works as an undercover gossip and cracks accidental jokes.

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