Social justice is a buzz word. You've probably heard it, had conversations about it, maybe you've even been fired up about an issue or two. You are not the minority, it seems. You and everyone else are frustrated with the way things are.
If you ask a fellow frustrated trailblazer why s/he is passionate, one might say, "I believe we have the potential to make things better in this world. I really think that we can see positive change." The level of intellect varies, but the popular opinion of activists is that they feel called to take some action.
Hmmm. This conversation recently got me thinking. ... about definitions. My high school English teacher Mrs. Brown (though she might be horrified at my abuse of grammar) would be glad to see rhetoric forced to its definitions. Because, you see, in the words of my dear chaplain Trygve Johnson, "Words create realities." If we live in a world created by vague rhetoric, the reality is just as muddled. Empowering phrases of social change easily draw a crowd, but one has to ask what lies underneath.
What is justice? Dictionary.com writes,
|1.||the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.|
|2.||rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.|
|3.||the moral principle determining just conduct.|
So, I guess we define just as something right and good. I guess that would also mean that we've defined (by default) something as wrong and bad to say that it needs to be changed. I wonder if social justice activists see the world this way - that there are wrong things that need changing to become right.
Why do we need change?
Change doesn't have to be from something good to bad or from bad to good. Change can be from something to something different. This is the perspective I met in my conversation. This person held the belief that social change doesn't define actions as wrong, but merely suggests something different. Okay, I said. What need is there for something different? How do we determine what needs to be different and what needs to stay the same?
If said social activists believe they are fighting for the rights of humans around the world, what is the motive? After my conversation today, my friend suggested that maybe life is absent of truth (its only perceived by individuals, through unique lenses) and all we are left with is cold, hard responsibility.
Another interesting thought. I guess then I ask - why are we responsible? What motivation do we have for doing anything good? Why not just be responsible for ourselves? I can determine my own absolute to allow all my vices, chide myself every once in awhile to make sure I have drawn the line somewhere, and live without worrying about the burdens of others.
I'M a social JUSTICE activist
The absurd thing... the ironical thing... is that I am a social JUSTICE activist. You see, I believe in justice by its definition. I believe that there are things I have done in my life that are wrong. I believe that I have done things in my life that are right (though precious few).
I believe genocide is wrong. I believe abuse is wrong. I believe child slavery is wrong. I believe the treatment of the beautiful Dalit people in India is wrong.
I believe that caring for the orphan and widow is right. I believe that loving one's neighbor is right. I believe that providing for basic human needs is right. I believe that my sponsored Compassion child Dinesh in India receiving education is right.
I am a social JUSTICE activist because I believe that is right as well. How do I know these things to be true - am I so presumptuous to think I have the answers? Absolutely not. I will never know why God poured out His grace. I will never know why He sent His one and only Son to redeem the INJUSTICE - everything wrong in the world past, present, and future. God sent His Son Jesus to be the ultimate social JUSTICE activist - that He would define Truth absolutely because He was Truth.
How else can we fight for change?