If there is one thing that concerns us all it is Social Justice. Firstly, in what happens to us. Issues of Social Justice affect the most of us. Many people belong to a minority even though it may fall under the radar. A lot of gender equality issues are still present in western countries. Even if it’s little things, they all pile up. That is why we keep fighting the roles we’re put in as males and females and try to shed the labels society puts on us. Furthermore, our world has got a big problem with the erasure of struggles people face below the surface. Very often we have to remind ourselves that not every person is neurologically typical and that mental illnesses surpass the idea of a bad night and that there is more to an autistic person than “difficult behaviour”.
But secondly and mostly when we hear the term “Social Justice”, our minds jumps to big things. Unfair distribution of food and goods, oppression and racism are things that are in the back of my head right now. An encounter I recently had in school really stuck with me throughout that day. Our team asked the students to write down what social issues they know about after we’ve talked about water shortage in some countries. Between a lot of “plastic in the ocean” and “homeless people” one girl enquired me about whether executions are still a thing. I had to gulp. Because yes; they are still a thing. It’s nothing I think about a lot, frankly nothing that ever really enters my mind at all. But some countries do execute their citizens. Part of the U.S. still supports the death penalty, which is the sentence for enough guilty people and some innocent prisoners. There are even countries that sentence their citizens to execution because of things they can’t change about themselves, or said differently they are executed for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes.
The UN describes social justice as “an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.” That shows us that what we want in life – peace, freedom, dignity, happiness – are values and goals only achieved by working on our society to overcome issues that may not even affect us directly or personally. Even if a person has never experienced racism they should work towards solving this issue because with certain problems not being solved there will be people fighting, people killing others and people living in fear because of it. In consequence, there won’t be peace in the world.
Especially as Christians we should try to work for Social Justice. We have been encouraged to bring peace to the world by several Popes and that is exactly what we should work towards, and with that also works towards Social Justice. As it is an integral part of International Workers’ Day, Social Justice is the thing we remember on the 1st May. It’s a day to remind us all that we have a goal of treating people the right way and equally to each other. We should all follow the example of the one who was described to us as the “Prince of Peace”; and even though it sounds like a broken record, we have to love our neighbour as ourselves, no matter the circumstances. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prisoner, a refugee, an immigrant or simply a person of colour, someone wealthy or someone poor. Everyone – every worker – deserves to be treated with the same dignity and respect than you yourself would want to be treated with. People that work together for Social Justice, and thereby face others with not only tolerance but also acceptance, work together for peace in the world.
I wish you all a thoughtful International Workers’ Day and a good week.