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The Pursuit of Social Justice: Trend or Conviction?

Updated on April 20, 2015
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Jamal is a graduate from Northeastern Seminary and writes on a broad range of topics. His writings are based on other points of view.

So this is a catharsis piece. Like most people I tend to watch Youtube a lot and pour over articles on current events online. I do this because one-part boredom and another part, trying-not-be-apathetic and ignorant. But something I am coming across a lot is articles, blogs, and vlogs on social justice; the right for women to be able to do whatever she sets her mind to, not being race profiled, more diversity in films and so on.

Now this is where it gets dicey so you may want to brace yourself, and make sure to read the whole article before drawing immediate conclusions.

Intellectually, I do not really have a problem with social justice. I have made plenty of enemies defending more liberal ideas against conservative thinkers who often times tended to look down on their ‘opposites’ for not sharing their views.

It’s repulsive and evil to hear about honor killings where a woman is burned to death or hanged simply for not asking her husband’s permission or dancing. It’s heart breaking to see a little girl feel awful about herself because she doesn’t have the big boobs and voluptuous waist she sees walking through the mall; and worse when she tries to mold herself to the propaganda. And equal pay and rights? Goes without saying.

Today we judge how we perceive others based which of these roads they take
Today we judge how we perceive others based which of these roads they take

My Dark Twin

However, I also find myself at times feeling…defensive by some of the online content and attitudes carrying these ideas forward. What I find agitating is the interpretation in my mind that those rights and opportunities are deserved, like a child who feels they’re owed the chocolate cake before bed. And if for some reason I happen to disagree on one particular point, then suddenly I’m against progressive issues. My thoughts and expressions do not matter and are muted.

I also find some of the more aggressive writing and push for social justice in gender issues and entertainment to sometimes be naïve. Yea I said it; naïve.

What I mean is that throughout history, anyone who had to fight for their human rights or defense of their home or culture had to be willing to make sacrifices for that cause. This included persecution and even death. It wasn’t simply handed to them on a platter.

Was it right? No. But people are people, and when you attack something that people benefit from, things get ugly and morals often go straight to hell.

Yet it was the people who were willing to lay everything on the line than got those rights, or at least got more opportunities for the next generation than they had. Look at the Peshmerga fighting in Iraq and Syria. It wasn’t trendy, popular, money making or pleasure seeking. It was something they genuinely believed in enough that they were willing to give it their all, and honestly a lot of times, it seems that some carrying the torch of social justice aren’t willing to go that far.

But of course I’m only human, and I maybe wrong. Perceptions are not everything…

Do you think groups championing social issues are passionate or just following the trend?

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The Pursuit of Happiness

The last thing that irritates me is that the motivation behind a lot of these causes often mentioned is doing whatever makes you happy and that respecting that somehow will lead to a balanced out utopia where everyone ‘just gets along’ and can disagree peacefully. To challenge this is to be invasive of another person's life...until its something they want you to believe as well! Simple, honest observation of people doing crimes or supporting agendas we find archaic and out of date will show that they do what they do for essentially the same reason!

Having guns makes them happy. Degrading and hurting women makes them happy. Maintaining an all White, heterosexual family and community makes them happy, and like their liberal counterparts, if the respect for others’ humanity gets lost in the mix, ‘hey that’s life. Get over it’.

I have heard people literally say that.

As the old song goes, ‘no one man is an island’. We don’t live in a bubble where what we say and do produces no reactions; silent or obvious, immediate or down the road. Human society is a machine. You get out of it what fuel you pour into it. And the machine is going to behave according to what is poured into it.

What feels good is often the motivation to our actions, from minor things like drinking and sex, to criminal acts, even though there are often consequences to other people that don't register with us
What feels good is often the motivation to our actions, from minor things like drinking and sex, to criminal acts, even though there are often consequences to other people that don't register with us

Defining Social Justice

All this seems simplified and probably wildly unpopular. Whether any of this is actually true or not, humans by nature don’t like being called out on something, a reaction from childhood…I suppose then in a way we are still ‘children’. However, if you have read my earlier posts, then you know I have liberal leanings.

Thing of it though is this; I believe in justice, a justice that does not take sides no matter how popular or unpopular they maybe. Inalienable. In the 1997 movie G.I.Jane, a woman who’s going through the Navy SEALS’ hell week training, accuses the base commander of still holding sexist views of her training for a male-only outfit.

The commander then through a series of male-oriented insults implies that he doesn’t care about sexism, but rather the double standard that the female recruit benefits from that the other male recruits don’t have, such as sensitivity training and wearing perfume during training. She wants to be a soldier, yet still keep the benefits that soldiers don’t get in war.

This is what I mean by justice. True social justice is a religion onto itself. It is higher than personal wants and desires. It believes in the rights of the individual, but is willing to suffer the lack of those rights to attain that inalienable human right that transcends Twitter and Youtube hits, and how much profit they make by pretending to support a cause.

This is the path of social justice pioneers like the Susan Anthony, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Mala Yousafzai to name a few. And the path isn’t justified by what personal gain they received, but the change in society that allowed others to benefit from that gain; a change that normally occurs through the violence of war rather than social protest.

I will gladly support that kind of social justice.


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