What is Social Justice?

photo credit: Google image search

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Have you heard the term “social justice” recently and wondered, “What is social justice, exactly?”  Well, chances are…you are not alone!

While many believe social justice may be an umbrella term that would be far too difficult to broach in this simple blog post, there are a few important aspects we can address.

First we’ll look at what the champions of social justice believe the term means, and then we’ll compare that to the opposing viewpoints many may have.  Finally, we will review the fundamentals of social justice, while considering a way we can all work together in a more civil environment to tackle to tough topics of social justice.

If you were to ask supporters what social justice means to them, you would find that basically—it means whatever they would like it to mean.  For example, ten champions of social justice may give you these answers as important issues in social justice today:

  1. EQUAL access to education
  2. Gay RIGHTS
  3. UNIVERSAL health care
  4. Income INEQUALITY
  5. RIGHT to housing
  6. Child WELFARE
  7. DIGNITY
  8. Women’s RIGHTS
  9. FAIRNESS
  10. Racial INEQUALITY

However, the other side may view social justice as something completely different.  A particular response from a recent study claimed that:

 “[Social Justice is] the promotion of ethical standards held by the majority, by shaming and shunning those who are considered ‘unethical’.  This basically reinforces the feelings of ethical superiority, instead of promoting actual change.” 

Other trepidations opponents may have regarding social justice, include the feelings that it is merely:

  • Political Opportunism
  • Intellectual Laziness

And essentially, that “freedom must be sacrificed in order to redistribute income.”  There is a general concern that the state will grow and utilize its POWER to do “good things”.

It is true, that the basic doctrine of social justice can be simplified by THE HAVES, who have too much, and THE HAVE NOTS, who never have enough.

However, we must pull away from this notion that only the “right” people can impose equality, prosperity, justice, and all the other “good things”, and that the state is the only institution that is capable of implementing these ideals.  Those who champion social justice should not view those who do not as the enemy!  It’s this very separation that prevents us from being a truly free society.

Photo credit: Prager University

Photo Credit: Prager University

But why is it only up to the state to fix?  Why can’t we come together and fight for these issues as one?

It is important to note that organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) are known for fighting for social justice.  In an article titled “And Social Justice for All” on the APA.org website by Chris Munsey states that the most noticeable came in 1954, when APA President Kenneth B. Clark, PhD and Mamie Phipps Clark, PhD provided works which aided in the Supreme Court decision, ruling racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

In closing, we feel Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD., President of the APA said it best:

“We can all work to turn down the temperature on outrage, and we can disagree passionately, but with respect and care.” 

Please share your thoughts with us, as we’d love to include other opinions and ideas into the working definition of social justice.

Posted on October 8, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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