Social Justice for Peace & Progress
“Peace and Development” is the theme for the World Day for Social Justice Day in 2019. The Take 10 Volunteer programme welcomes people of all colours, creeds and capabilities to work for peace and development by working on efficient long-term projects which advance social justice.
The Human species is expanding at breakneck speed
The world in which we live is a product of generations of life, love, loss, struggle and politics, each carried out in its own sphere of time. It took 12,000 years for mankind to reach 1 billion people. 130 years later, in 1930, we were 2 billion. After this, the rate of growth accelerated. With time ticking and numbers mounting, we reached 7 billion in 2011.
The numbers show that we are growing by a billion people every 12 years, and this huge and exponential expansion of the human species is having a fundamental impact on life and its conditions on this planet.
How can we ensure a peaceful and prosperous coexistence between all these people? Can there be peace without justice?
Some things never change
We live in a rapidly changing world. In the last fifty years, we have gone from a few landline telephones in 1950 to 2,5 billion smart phone in 2019, from old-fashioned cooking methods to frozen pizzas and café lattes in one-use cups, from clothes being mended and passed down to younger siblings to fast fashion – with heaps of cheap clothes being produced in Bangladeshi sweat shops.
On the other hand, the world did not change at all when we compare the basics of 1950 with the same basics of today. Some things never change. The education system hardly changed. A time-traveller who has travelled from a classroom in 1950 will probably feel more or less at home in a classroom today.
The Poor have always been ignored
Another phenomenon that hasn’t changed is this: The Poor did not and do not count. They are largely ignored.
The Poor in their billions, making up half of the world’s population, continue to suffer. The Poor suffer from early death – UNICEF project that by 2030 Sub-Saharan Africa will account for half of the 69 million children who will die before their 5th birthday from preventable causes.
The Poor suffer from inadequate health systems that are unable to deal with simple illnesses and health conditions leading to early death for many, for which vaccines and treatments are cheaply available. The cost of funerals and the endless psychological trauma of all these issues heap an additional strain on daily living.
The Poor suffer from inadequate housing, inadequate education through rote learning, lack of hope and not least from being left along in their struggles.
This is terror dumped on the daily life of families from Malawi to India to Yemen to Haiti.
Who is on their side?
The birth of capitalism
This injustice and inequality has roots 500 years ago with the dawn of early capitalism when Spanish and Portuguese sailors embarked upon the discovery of “new lands”, encroaching upon America, Africa and Asia. Once there, plundering of natural resources and displacement of people, their cultures and their lives ravaged the landscape. Few became rich as cultures were wiped out.
This is the premise upon which much of the progress in the material conditions of societies in the western world is founded. (Take a walk through almost any European capital and consider where the wealth to build palaces and opulent buildings of commerce came from.) The drive for more wealth and control of resources has created wars, divisions of class, religion, gender, ethnicities, masters and slaves, and ideologies.
Although people throughout history have fought for better conditions and indeed some laws have decreed some change for the better, the much-needed transformation of the lives of The Poor has not materialised. Benjamin Franklin; writer, philosopher and scientist from the mid 1700’s wrote that
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are”.
Today, the rich have become super rich, owning the best of our common wealth. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever before. And we are still waiting for the outrage.
How do we work toward social justice?
We fight for social justice when we decide to stand up for the poverty-stricken. Outrage is a good starting point, but turning that energy into passion and action is better.
We fight for social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. We fight for it when we insist on human rights being respected and human dignity upheld. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of age, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, culture or having special needs.
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. The International Labour Organisation estimates that currently about two billion people live in fragile and conflict-affected situations, of whom more than 400 million are aged 15 to 29.
Two billion. Let that sink in.
Creating jobs, advancing sustainable farming practices and food security, improving health issues and providing quality education at the primary and vocational level all contribute to more cohesive and equitable societies and thus are important to prevent violent conflicts and to address post-conflict challenges.
That’s why the Take 10 Volunteer programme are partnering with Humana People to People projects, to support a number of developing communities in their endeavour to achieve social justice. It is a slow process to achieve social justice and to bring about positive change. Humana organisations have worked in a number of countries for decades. Projects are created in liaison with local communities. Step by step the struggle for social justice is won.
You can join us too. We need hands out of pockets and energies working to achieve social justice for all.
You are hereby invited!
“Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.”
~ United Nations
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