Today, we observe World Day of Social Justice.
What does it mean to observe Social Justice for the day? For many who do the relentless and arduous work of social justice — those who call for the end of discrimination via agitating for policy changes, through social awareness, and their beliefs in the possibilities of a better world — the rewards are little and is the result of immense hard work.
For these people, the fight for social justice is not something that can be reduced to a day. It is a journey — a long, sometimes painful, journey that is taken by those who believe that the fight is had not because they can win, but because it is right. But more than anything, the force that propels peoples’ will to fight for social justice is hope. It is the hope that rests that the world can be better, that we are capable of change, transformation, restoration, and healing. Criticisms feel like attacks when in reality, the work done by those who work towards a world of justice criticise because they believe — and they hope — that they can tap into everyone’s capacity to transform, that they can tap into everyone’s innate need to want to get along with others.
It is the prejudices, the biases, the narratives created by the powerful to keep people secluded from one another who thrive off our isolation. They profit and facilitate wars, conflicts, and sectarianism. It is possible to live with others and our differences. Yet the moment we demonise and stigmatise those differences — and those in power are usually the architects of this hatred — we fall into the trap of believing that we are incapable of caring for each other due to our differences.
This is not to say that we should try to get along with those who actively engage in rhetoric and actions that try to harm people — but we recognise that their narratives are informed by various structures i.e., patriarchy, capitalism. We fight these structures because its constituents are shaped by the structures that they live in.
The ultimate goal of social justice is collective healing. But in order to heal wounds, we must be willing to be uncomfortable with the reality of its ugly roots, we must learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable as we unlearn the things that we have learned that have contributed to the harm of others. In order to heal wounds, it is no longer sustainable to identify the symptoms of oppressive structures — we must challenge structures that allow for this to happen in the first place. It is only then that we can move forward as human beings who we can live amongst, and will give us the audacious strength to push back against those who disrupt harmony.