I'm not sure I have much to say about the current theme, although it makes perfect sense to me. I would certainly believe that doing meaningful or even decent work would make it less likely folks would get into conflicts, since a priority for most people is family. Being able to provide well for them would ease some pressure, so I can imagine work which would support families should help lead to fewer conflicts.
That said, I think it might make sense for me to write about:
What Social Justice Means to Me
One definition of social justice, from Wikipedia is: "Social justice is the fair and just relation between the individual and society." Nice and succinct. Another is: "Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society." That's from Oxford dictionaries (see: entry ). That seems pretty close to what many folks talk of when advocating for social justice.
But what does that mean, really? To me, first of all it means no one should be left behind. Society should be inclusive. Everyone should have access to good schools, decent jobs and a living wage (guess that does tie in with the U. N. theme somewhat), decent housing, health care, equal rights to have one's voice heard in society and fair treatment by the justice system. In general, everyone should be treated fairly and have equal access to opportunities and justice.
These are very real concerns. One reflection of these issues is found in social mobility. Data has shown that the U.S. has become less socially mobile. Data analysis also shows that the U.S. is way down the list of social mobility among developed countries. Although this article , by Lee Elliot Major and John Jerrim of IOE (UCL Institute of Education, Univ. College, London), focuses on the UK, it's worth checking out. Graph 1 speaks to how various countries rate in social mobility. One implication the authors believe is that; "we are wasting talent." So not only are these concerns real, but they have a practical consideration. With all the challenges we face today, it seems to me that wasting talent is not prudent for any country to do. We need everyone on board to help us solve problems and enable us to rise together.
Social justice also means to me that although individual responsibility is not discounted, wider society still should be active in supporting its people. Being a retired educator, I know this and let's think of education as an example. Educators know that we expect students to do their part: attend class, do assigned readings and homework, hand in assignments, prepare well for tests and whatever else they need to do to succeed in their studies. BUT shouldn't WE make sure they have access to what they need to support them in this endeavor? They need such things as well-equipped and maintained schools, access to affordable texts and materials such as calculators, online research access, etc. , including not having to leave college under a ton of debt. An example of the U. S. heading in the wrong direction in supporting social justice (that will likely impact students, for sure) is the very recent FCC decision to limit broadband Internet subsidies for low-income citizens (Lifeline program). Our thinking and policymaking needs to become more progressive.
Social justice also means to me that we should make better decisions that will positively impact our citizens - and our Planet. According to figures cited in this op-ed, military spending was the largest item in the U.S. Budget for FY 2015 - approximately 54 percent, while spending on education, by contrast, was at approximately 6 percent (and current admin. is thinking of increasing military spending). I know I may be biased, but wouldn't investing in students and education be a better investment than more military hardware? Instead of increasing military spending, shouldn't we spend more on things such as education, infrastructure, the environment? We are not making good choices for our Planet either, if we continue to support projects harmful to the environment such as the DAPL, and ignore climate change. Shouldn't part of social justice be living together in health and peace on Planet Earth which we all share?
Finally, social justice means to me that all should be treated 'the same'; those who are like us and those who are different. Regardless of social class, race or ethnicity, religion, gender, gender preference or identity, disability or WHATEVER. Each person should be accorded equality (especially equality under the law), respect, and dignity. We should heed the words of Chief Joseph from 1879: "Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow." It's as simple - and sometimes as messy - as that.
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