As a species, we have lost our sense of justice.
The first time I read about kids folded, taped up and shipped in tiny containers to international locations, on a journey spanning weeks, I lost my appetite. Because how can we continue on with our lives when millions of people just like us are being beaten up or violently raped or sold, sedated and then skin torn off their bodies to make rich people beautiful? When animals face fates no better than these unfortunate humans, and nature is exploited for “growth” in every possible way?
Merely reading about any of the horrific things we do to each other is so traumatising that sometimes we’d rather not know, and even if we know, not think about it much, so that we are able to carry on with our lives with some semblance of sanity.
On the upside, the Digital Age has made it possible for us to hear about and care for the most marginalised and neglected lives that inhabit the earth. There is so much being done by organisations, activists and conscious governments to fight injustice on the ground. In this article I would like to explore how we as compassionate humans, can join the justice movement and help create change in the world.
- Make ourselves more aware and spread the word
The more people know about what’s going on in the world outside of our bubbles, the more there will be momentum and support to solve problems.
We need to choose to know more about justice efforts and their impact using digital platforms – follow organisations, groups, and media that are working on issues, educate ourselves more through their content and updates, engage and share it with our own network, and even start conversations. We can help further the awareness, interest, and participation. A friend’s perspective can resonate with people in a way that than an op-ed piece cannot.
On the other side, social workers and NGOs must use social media to its fullest potential. The world really cares about the work you do. What you have to share with the world are the most important topics we need to talk about today. Social media is made for it. You can use it to engage with the world and involve us in different ways.
- Identity and soul-searching
In one of the most soul-stirring TED talks of all time, Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, says about living in a state of disconnect from the shocking things happening around us, “..I believe that our identity is at risk. That when we actually don’t care about these difficult things, the positive and wonderful things are nonetheless implicated. We love innovation. We love technology. We love creativity. We love entertainment. But ultimately, those realities are shadowed by suffering, abuse, degradation, marginalization. And for me, it becomes necessary to integrate the two. Because ultimately we are talking about a need to be more hopeful, more committed, more dedicated to the basic challenges of living in a complex world. And for me that means spending time thinking and talking about the poor, the disadvantaged, those who will never get to TED. But thinking about them in a way that is integrated in our own lives.”
I believe the integration that Mr. Stevenson spoke about in 2012 is happening today. The disconnect we had before is perhaps less today. Digital media tells us things we would otherwise not have heard. Hearing about it makes us think about these things and at some point, move to action in whatever way we can.
When we see something that shocks us, we respond in some way – we cry, we express outrage, or we look for more evidence to understand it better. In doing any of these things, we are subconsciously asking ourselves and defining, who we are. As an individual and as a society, who are we in the face of what is happening to our brothers and sisters?
By constantly redefining who we are through a more conscious view of the world, we are evolving. I believe, in our evolution lies the answer to problems as fundamental as apathy or hatred. And we must use our voice to share our views, ideas, and evolution with whoever is listening.
- Collaborate in action
Every chance someone gets to be hopeful, do something good, or create change in a small way, takes us one step closer to a better world.
We live in a society where technology, economy, business, and crime are highly advanced but our thinking and our higher sensibilities are struggling to catch up.
We are very advanced but we are not grounded to our roots. We can go to Mars but we can’t give food to every human. We have nuclear power but we still live in a world where we need that sort of violence and weapons. We need to kill people to end the killing of people, in a never-ending cycle.
It is shocking how many people say, “things are the way they are and nothing can be done about it” or “nothing can be done overnight”. Demonetisation can be implemented in an entire nation overnight. A lockdown can be implemented all over the world practically overnight no matter what the costs. The largest of corporations can shift to a work-from-home model overnight. Election campaigns can reach the remotest of the corners of any nation but food can’t?
Everything we have created as a species – good and bad – are far more advanced than what we are prepared to take responsibility for. This is a critical flaw in the construct of our world today. And the key to the solution lies within each and every one of us.
A question many of us are asking today is, how can we change this? What action can I take today, that will end suffering?
A wise man once said, “be the change you wish you see in the world.”
We can’t fight hate with hate, or apathy with outrage. That’s much like fighting a war with more war. What we can do at an individual level is, change the way we observe, understand, think, speak, and act. If we want justice, we have to be just ourselves – we have to demand it of our selves. If we want people to be more empathetic to each other, we have to have empathy too. Even when someone is justifying a crime, we have to rise above calling them heartless and try to understand how it’s possible for someone to think this way.
In doing this, we will gain our own perspective of the world and find out what role we can play in bringing about change. When we start the work, the path will emerge. The answers will come. Perhaps it’s foolish to hope to do something about it tomorrow. Injustice has been around forever.
But, what if we were a million warriors of justice (or a billion), envisioning a better world together, and changing ourselves every day to make the world a bit more like that? Surely the world can be a much different place in say, ten years?
What if there is no poverty in 2030. There is more equality, more employment and incomes and fulfilled lives. More creation, less destruction. More healing, fewer psychological disorders, less crime. A new kind of leadership with the right priorities. More consciousness, less mindlessness. Balance. Harmony. Justice.
With all our intelligence and advancements and conquests and science and arts and gods and money and the gift of communication and history and a seamlessly connected world, is that too much to hope for?
By Meenu Susanna
Meenu is a passionate, ever-evolving dreamer who is madly in love with the world and its imperfections and idiosyncrasies. She runs a marketing firm that finds and helps liberate potent ideas for a better world. She believes in the power of the digital era in aligning the stars favourably and taking us closer to making our dreams a reality, and that it is up to each one of us to choose the good dreams.