Putting social justice in a proper context.
Well social justice is a term that’s __________ around a lot and I’m not really sure what it means. I don’t even know what the words are doing together, although I do use it for lack of a better term. Really we’re talking about justice. I’m not sure what the word “social” is doing there. Is it an adjective to describe the word justice? Isn’t all justice social, but at the same time individual? I mean really what we’re talking about is justice; but I think for too many people justice is understood in very narrow terms to mean what happens in the legal system. And of course what you understand if you study law as I did is that law is well beyond what is written down in the books, and of course well beyond what the judges themselves say about what’s written down in the books. There’s lots of ways in which law emerges – administratively through judges and through legislators; but more broadly speaking, justice is the way in which we understand our world and the decisions and choices we make morally and ethically about how to organize ourselves and about how to coexist together. And what seems patently obvious in one cultural context as just, and necessary, and good may, of course, seem absolutely blasphemous in another context. So justice itself is quite a concept. And that again is why human rights become so important, because what we’re talking about is a universal system of understanding what we’re all entitled to as human beings irrespective of where or how we live.
Recorded on: 8/13/07