What is social justice?
Social justice exists when all people in a society are afforded all opportunities without any discrimination against them. The concept of social justice embodies a sense of safety as people feel confident that they will have protection under the law in any and all situations of life.
Certainly, it was the goal of the writers of the United States Constitution to ensure with the Amendments that people's rights and freedoms were secured. It is this Constitution to which Martin Luther King alluded in his "I Have a Dream" speech when he invoked the "promissory note" upon which the U.S. government had "defaulted":
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.
Social justice was, indeed, the cause celebre of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments resulted from this movement, amendments which granted civil rights and black suffrage, respectively.
Worldwide efforts for social justice were contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a General Assembly of the U.N. Resolution. An influential party to this declaration was Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This document was composed in
recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family....
Of course, the concept of social justice, or human development--the freedom of people to choose who they wish to be and how they wish to act and live-- began long before the U.S. Constitution was composed, going back as far as the time of the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. Such names as Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza, Voltaire, Thomas Paine are among those who advocated social justice.
Certainly, many religious faiths are founded with the concept of social justice. One that works strongly to uphold this concept is the Interfaith Social Justice Reform Coalition (ISARC), which is a large interfaith organization in Ontario, Canada. The ISARC has as its mission the facilitation and empowerment of
diverse faith communities to research, educate, and advocate for public policy for the elimination of poverty in Ontario.
The values of ISARC are those of social justice:
human dignity, social equity, mutual responsibility, fiscal fairness, economic equity and environmental sustainability.
All in all, social justice is what revolutions have been fought over, the reason people have emigrated from countries, the reasons that wars have been waged, protests staged, lawsuits filed. All people from all ages and lands have desired social justice; all people have yearned, fought, and died for fairness.