Social justice can be simply explained as the equality of individuals in the world. Social justice is attainable despite all the pessimistic views. Social justice can be attainable by positive actions of individuals, the belief of groups and organizations that every human life matters and the belief that to eradicate social injustice the organization has to begin somewhere. Social justice will also be attainable with the ability of groups to come together and fight for the rights of everyone, and the willingness of the poor to do anything it takes to educate their children.
With such positive attitudes by individuals, groups and organizations social justice is attainable. Every drop of water contributes to the sea, in the same way as when every individual keeps a positive attitude and contributes to achieve social justice, it becomes easier to attain. In the text Mountains Beyond Mountains, there are many examples of positive actions by both Paul Farmer and Partners in Health to attain social justice.
Paul Farmer is one of the most optimistic and altruistic people; he was one of the one of the first people to take an initiative to attain social justice and make a change in Haiti. An example of Farmer’s efforts can be seen in his first year in Haiti, when a pregnant woman needed a blood transfusion but her sister was unable to afford it. Farmer ran around trying to gather some money, so that the woman’s sister could pay for the blood and transfusion.
Even though Farmer was unable to help the woman and her child, it was a positive attitude for Farmer to make an effort to help the woman, when everyone had given up. Farmer demonstrates the power of the individual, which makes it clear that social justice becomes more attainable with every individual’s contribution. Another example of an individual’s contribution to attain social justice can be seen in the documentary Black Gold. There is social injustice in the lives of coffee farmers in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia grows the best kind of coffee and coffee is the “second most traded commodity in the world” (Black Gold) Yet, Ethiopia still suffers from poverty. This is because the farmers are exploited by the buyers and do not receive a “fair price” for their coffee. This way they suffer from poverty. In this situation, an individual called Tadesse and his company Kilenso Mokonisa Cooperate can be seen trying to bring about positive change in the lives of the coffee farmers. As they deserve at least to live a healthy life and be able to send their children to school.
Tadesse tries to make a positive change as he takes international trips to places like London, looking for better markets and better prices for his farmer, for example he met companies that supply coffee to smaller cities in America, which were ready to pay a fair price for Ethiopian coffee and Tadesse was also trying to make Ethiopian coffee seen as it is always “hidden behind” (Black Gold). This could be seen as an individual business owner making positive attempts to achieve social justice for his farmers, even though he doesn’t have to.
It is inspiring to learn about a business owner who aims at achieving the greater good, rather than being selfish. Social justice is attainable when organizations/groups believe that every life matters and that change has to begin somewhere. An example of such attitudes can be seen in Mountains Beyond Mountains when John (a Haitian boy) was taken to Boston in a Medevac flight even though he had only a slight chance of being cured. Yet Partners in Health as an organization did not give up but rather decided to act on that slight chance.
Even though PIH was not able to save John, they were recognized “not letting him die there” (Kidder 278) and keeping a positive attitude to attain social justice. This way PIH managed to attain social justice for John, as the right to proper medical care is a fundamental human right. John did not survive the disease, but because of PIH’s positive attitude, he was able to receive his share of justice. Farmer and PIH also set another example in Mountains Beyond Mountains of positive attitudes and actions when aiming at attaining social justice.
In a situation where only there were only limited resources available in the treatment of either MDR T. B. or T. B. PIH decides to look at the positive side of the aspect of limited resources and attempts to maximize utility by finding lower prices for MDR T. B. and T. B. drugs. “…Politically we have to respond. Positively. Same time we have to start a dialogue” (Kidder 160). In this case even though PIH is unable to achieve to attain complete social justice for everyone, but they are making an effort by their optimism to help and gain social justice for each individual at a time.
In Black Gold, in the latter end, the farmers and other people come together and decide to make a positive change to build schools for their children. A farmer said that if he did not have money he would sell his shirt and send his child to school, so that his child would not have to suffer like the way he did and by educating the youth, Ethiopia would prosper (Black Gold). This could be seen as a positive change made by the society, to achieve social justice, that is, an effort is being made to start somewhere with the willingness to do anything it takes to educate their children and give them the right they deserve.
In Racism on Trial, positive actions were made by the Chicanos to achieve social justice and equality in the community. That is, the Chicanos are considered to be “the other” as compared to the whites in the book. In this text, the Chicanos were treated unequally in the community when it came to education, health care, employment opportunities and so on. For example Chicanos in schools were being labeled as mentally challenged just because they were not fluent in English; apart from that the Chicano students were not given the same guidance for higher education like the Chicanos.
It got to a point that it was intolerable. The movement was a positive action made by the Chicanos that left their high schools to protest in order to fight for social justice. On the other hand, around that time, the African Americans were also fighting for equality; so, they came together despite their different races to fight for social justice together. “We, Brown and Black, stand here together…Our oppressions are one. Our dreams are one. Our demands are one…” (Lopez 167) This could be seen as positive actions by both the Chicanos and the African Americans to unite and protest against social injustice.
In other words, they removed the barriers of race between themselves to achieve social justice. Social justice cannot be achieved overnight; it takes time, a lot of perseverance and a positive attitude to achieve it. I have always believed in equality but studying a social justice course has taught me to view social injustice from many different perspectives. When I enter the real world I plan to make a difference in the society, even if only as an individual in the business world.