Social Justice


I- Justice is paying attention to people's needs, their capacities and talents, and their rights. It is looking at them as endowed not with extrinsic (non-essential) value like money, power, skin color, but with inherent/intrinsic (belonging to one's nature) value, as an end in themselves. Justice is caring for people's needs, nurturing their capacities and respecting their rights.

  1. We have needs like food, water, shelter and love, if these needs are not satisfied we wither and die.
  2. We have unique and universal capacities and potentialities, like the capacity to solve real life problems, the capacity to tell the truth, to love, to care for others and ourselves, to be patient and generous, to strive for excellence. When these capacities are not acknowledged, when we are not allowed to exercise and advance them, we feel worthless. The sense of worthlessness leads to sadness and apathy or to anger and violence or, still, to a desire to dominate others, to prove ourselves superior and to make others feel worthless-to prove that we are important after all.
  3. We have equal rights, like the right to freedom, to education, to peace, to clean land, air and water. When society does not respect these rights, we cannot survive nor develop our talents and capacities

II- When we treat people in a just way, we recognize them by their inherent value and treat them with love and respect. This way, we each become our better selves.

Exercise on identifying each other's inherent and extrinsic qualities (three qualities for each example)

III- When we share our capacities and qualities, we become stronger and develop them even further Because we are looking at each other's inherent value, instead of external attributes, we are not afraid of losing them nor do we try to protect them from others. We help each other achieve excellence and become aware of our unity. We realize that the more we give, the more we help, the more we grow and develop

IV- Justice is the condition under which love and care flourishes and its result is the achievement of excellence in all things.

Summary: Justice is the way we treat people and nature, when we use our eyes to look beyond external characteristics and acknowledge the needs, intrinsic capacities and potentialities, and rights of those around us. When we look at people this way, we realize that we depend on each other equally for the development of these capacities. That is, we cannot achieve excellence if we are not helping others achieve it too.

Read the text

"Think of some of the things you know to be true", Nana says to Lili. "How did you learn them? You either read them in a book, or heard them from someone. But how can we be sure that what we read or hear is true? The quality that enables each of us to see the truth is justice. Without justice, we have difficulty separating truth from falsehood. One of the greatest truths that we with the aid of justice is the oneness of humankind: that we are one: that we like the different parts of a single body. When we realize this truth we become champions of justice. We try our best to create a society that is organized according to the principles of justice. Think, for example of the children of the world. Every child should be able to receive nutritious food, good education, shelter, medical care, and of course a great deal of love. A society in which some children are deprived of these basic benefits is not just".

In answer to Lili, who says she always thought justice meant punishment, Nana explains that while each one of us should forgive a person who does us wrong, society should have laws that would punish those who harm others. But that is only half of what needs to be done. Justice also means reward for those who act right.

Discuss briefly the meaning of each sentence:

  1. With the aid of justice we see with our own eyes and not through the eyes of others.
  2. In order to be just we need to treat others as we would wish to be treated.
  3. To exercise justice we have to free ourselves from imitation.
  4. The light of justice removes the darkness of prejudice the whole.
  5. Justice requires that we dedicate ourselves to promoting the highest interests of humanity.

Video about the boy who solved his community's conflict with the lions
Discuss these questions with them again, in the context of the movie: 

  1. With the aid of justice, we see with our own eyes and not through the eyes of others
  2. To exercise justice we have to free ourselves from imitation
  3. Justice requires that we dedicate ourselves to promoting the highest interests of the whole humanity