Justice is the principle of being impartial/fair or giving to each what he/she is due and it forms the basic structure of a society. The quest for justice whether social, economic, or political is vital in the creation of a meaningful society where everyone has equal access to the society’s resources and opportunities and human dignity is accorded to all. For instance, people living in marginalized areas should have the same access to clean water and sanitation as the urban dwellers. In addition, low-income earners should receive similar quality health services that persons with higher incomes receive (Boldt, Long and Bear 100-105).
Justice is essential for the growth, development and flourishing of any society. Therefore, any movement that considers humanity must take the quest for a just society seriously. Nevertheless, since humanism cannot bloom in a society where injustice, oppression, and deprivation prevail, it is up to us to contribute towards the realization of our happiness and well-being in the society by involving ourselves in changing and challenging unjust customs, traditions, as well as institutions (Boldt, Long and Bear 100-105).
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We all must be willing and ready to defend the cause of addressing instances of injustice against all people without biasness. We must ensure that all the community members enjoy justice, equality, and human rights irrespective of age, race, nationality, sex orientation, religion, or even belief. In achieving this, we must be prepared to speak the truth to power and lead by example by being the agents of change that we desire. Because if this doesn’t happen, there will be continued use power in oppressing, exploiting, dehumanizing and victimizing the poor and defenseless citizens as well as the disadvantaged vulnerable and minority groups. Therefore, the quest for justice is an illuminating and enlightening process as justice is light while injustice is darkness (Boldt, Long and Bear 100-105).
Principles of Social Justice
The quest of justice is, therefore, a philosophy of hope, reformation, as well as rebirth. So we as the champions of justice should not turn a blind eye when our people suffer and are oppressed. We must strive to make right our institutions and systems of reforms which are responsible for the suffering and misery of humanity. More than anything else we must demonstrate compassion, empathy, solidarity as well as goodwill to our fellow brothers and sisters, after all, we are all equal before God (Boldt, Long and Bear 100-105).
The greatest achievement of a human society has been associated with freedom of the individual members of the society to pursue their goals and interests. Other than having a spiritual benefit for individuals, human liberty also has a profoundly beneficial economic effect for societies. The progress of free individuals working together in a liberal society is unavoidably uncertain and is determined by the choices of the individuals coordinating based on market exchanges. By becoming part of institutions such as those that uphold the law or provide military security, members of the society can perceive that their efforts are progressing ideals of justice under the law thereby gaining fulfillment and a sense of noble purpose that other parties may not enjoy. Therefore, maintaining justice in the society creates an environment where every member of the society will have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well as the liberty to pursue one’s interests without fear of intimidation or discrimination (Miller 77-90).
According to Alfred North Whitehead, a mathematics and philosophy professor at the universities of London and Harvard, a major turning point in the history o humanity has come when we are now witnessing freedom explosions prompted by the realization that a time has come to fight for our freedom. This is evident from the constant rumbling of dissatisfaction that we hear today from masses of people rising from prisons of oppression to the hills of freedom singing freedom songs such as “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.” Worldwide, there are emerging freedom movements, which like a fever, are spreading so fast in the widest liberation in history. Determined to end the oppression and injustice in our societies, these movements are moving towards achieving their goal like a tidal wave. According to Alfred, the era of colonialism has ended, east is meeting west, and finally there earth is being redistributed.
Equality involves giving fair treatment to all people and ensuring every person has equal rights to what life offers. However, since inequality is still in existence in the society, treating everybody the same way does not necessarily mean fairness. This is where social justice comes in handy as it ensures equality to people from marginalized areas. Social justice promotes equity in resource distribution to marginalized groups by recognizing beyond their disadvantage and existence of structural hurdles rooted in the social, economic, and political systems that perpetuates discrimination. While equal opportunities are applicable to all, social justice focuses on the disadvantaged people in the society. Social justice appreciates the fact that there are situations where applications of the same rules to unequal groups of people can yield unequal outcomes, therefore, it plays a role in providing a framework for assessing the impact of policies and practices (Miller 77-90).
Pluralism is the active quest for understanding across lines of difference. It also means encountering commitments. It does not require us to leave behind our uniqueness and commitments, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It entails holding our deepest differences together with one another. The language of pluralism is that of conversation and encounter, give and take as well as criticism. It involves showing commitment to dialogue with one’s commitment (Miller 77-90).
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This virtue allows people from all racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds to coexist harmoniously even if they have different points of view and conflicting ideas on how to order themselves in the society. The idea of tolerance has changed radically over time in the history of humanity. There are times when the meaning of tolerance was just that: tolerance. Despite not being in agreement with our neighbor’s religious beliefs, lifestyle choices, or culture as law-abiding citizens, we should tolerate them in order to maintain peace. However, nowadays there is a new understanding of tolerance. We must not just simply respect our neighbor’s rights to think and act differently, we must learn also be able to embrace, celebrate, and promote the way they live even if it means turning our backs on our values in the process. For instance in the homosexual world where there is conflict in the they way they live and the traditional understanding of marriage and family. In such cases tolerance and only tolerance can offer solution to the problem (American Sociological Association 189-200).
This is the act of being hospitable or welcoming to strangers or visitors with liberality and goodwill. It is also the ability to make people feel at home. Whenever there is justice in a society, this means that people will have equal rights hence no one will be intimidated based on race, religion, or cultural background. Since there is strength in diversity, locals will be more than willing to receive visitors from whom they will learn new ideas, languages, and cultures among others (American Sociological Association 189-200).
The role of faith
One of the most exceptional features of the entire world’s religion is a commitment to a considerate action, which is often a clear declaration of the demand for justice. Faith plays an important role working for the poor and in putting pressure to the government to deal with the persistent global poverty and social injustices in the face of rising affluence in economically successful parts of the world. Therefore, faith communities form essential players in confronting and addressing issues affecting the society (American Sociological Association 189-200).
Unity in diversity
This is an expression of unity without uniformity and diversity without disintegration. The hope of the people in the society is to maintain a rich diversity of social types expecting that cross-fertilization with others will take place thus maintaining diversity that is important for indefinite survival. By promoting diversity, each society ensures a rich source of ideas for its future. There exists a remarkable compatibility between all fields of science, whether they deal with living or non-living things that has an impact on our culture. These various disciplines offer reinforcement to each other when they establish contact. Despite the vast variety in creation, a deep underlying unity provides the motivation for many people to trace evolution to a divine source (Miller 77-90).
The Common Good
This is a notion that originated more than two thousand years ago in scripts of authors such as Plato, Aristotle etc. The Catholic Church, which has a long history of trying to promote the common good defines it as the total of those conditions of social life that allow social groupings and their individual members ready access to their own fulfillment. Therefore, the common good entails having social systems, organizations, and surroundings on which we all depend for the benefit of all people. Examples of common goods include accessible and affordable health care, a just legal and political system, pollution-free natural environment, worldwide peace, flourishing economy among others. It is important to note that the common good does not just occur, its establishment and maintenance requires the collective effort and cooperation of all the relevant stakeholders (American Sociological Association 189-200).
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However, it is very difficult to achieve a common good in our pluralistic society where different people have different ideas concerning what makes up a good life for human beings. With such disagreements, it is impossible to agree on what social systems, institutions, and environment we will support for the common good of all. Another hindrance to achieving common good is the free-rider problem where you find certain individuals enjoy the benefits associated with the common good but at the same time failing to do their part in support of its maintenance. For instance to maintain a sufficient supply of water during the dry season, people must agree to conserve water. Free riders may be reluctant to do their share knowing that as long as enough people conserve water, they will enjoy the benefits without decreasing their own consumption (American Sociological Association, American Sociological Society, JSTOR 189-200).
Another obstacle in the achievement of the common good is individualism. Our society comprises of independent people with individual freedom to do what they please without the interference from others. With this culture of individualism, it is not easy to convince people to let go some of their freedom, personal goals, or self-interest for the sake of the common good. Therefore, it is very important to ensure justice prevails in our society to enforce truth, the rule of law and fairness.
How a structure of a political system affect social justice
Politics dictates how resources are allocated to the citizens of a country. It also determines who gets what, when and how. Political interventions are a necessary part of criminal justice even though sometimes they can be chaotic. A democratic political system ensures criminal justice through the process of lawmaking. More often than not judges are pressurized by the politicians to rule in their favor whenever they are involved in a court case. In such cases, corruption-free and transparent judicial systems can ensure that justice prevails across board without fear or favor hence there will be no considerations for politicians while oppressing the rights of the common person (Rawls 47-55).
Affirmative action means positive steps taken to raise the representation of women and other minority groups in areas of employment, education, business etc in which they have historically been excluded. When the selection process becomes preferential based on race, gender, or ethnicity, affirmative action can create intense arguments. It is important that affirmative action be encouraged as a means to minimize social injustices, hence promoting growth and development in the society, and consequently the well-being of members of the society (Rawls 47-55).
The quest for justice is a must-do for all the members of the society if a meaningful life is to be realized. With justice comes freedom, equality, tolerance, unity in diversity and the common good of all just to mention but a few. These will create a conducive environment for growth, development, as well as cross-fertilization of ideas, cultures, languages etc. The result is a stronger society that is equipped to handle any challenges that may come in its way to prosperity.