World Day of Social Justice

Today is the United Nations World Day of Social Justice. Since 2009, February 20th has been designated as World Day of Social Justice. It sounds nice that United Nations has declared February 20th as Social Justice Day but we will never have Social Justice if the more wealthier countries are not committed in investing in humanity.

I must admit that I have lost credibility in the United Nations role. The United Nations rather than “uniting nations” it serves as a vehicle where the most powerful countries can dictate and bully other countries’ agenda. I think on a day like today where one is trying to raise awareness on Social Justice, we have to re-evaluate the structure and role of the United Nations. As long as the United Nations continues to be in New York, it will continue to be a puppet of the U.S. government. Countries know in advance that when they are dealing with the United Nations, they are basically dealing with the United States. How many times has countries within the United Nations have condemn the economic embargo on Cuba? Or when the U.S. was getting ready to go to war against Irak, Bush, simply ignored the United Nations and went ahead and started bombing Irak. Wouldn’t that be an act that should have automatically dismissed the United States from being a permanent member of the veto countries. Acts like the one that Bush took to invade Irak are terrorist acts and should be held accountable in a international tribunal. Bush and company should be tried for crimes against humanity. The United Nations body should have the power to carry such tribunal. That is Social Justice.  But, given the current structure of the United Nations, there is no sense of social justice coming from such body. I think the United Nations Headquarters should be in Brazil, India, or South Africa. I also don’t think that 5 countries should be permanent bodies with veto power. How can 5 countries dictate the rules of the international community? To bring justice to the United Nations, I think one has to reform the whole United Nations. I want to see more representation from 3rd world countries, developing countries and make it more democratic. So that’s my take on the United Nations.

While people in the Middle East and in North Africa are rising up against dictators, one is clearly seeing signs of a true social justice movement that is happening in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Jordan, Algeria, and Morocco to name a few. People in these countries are demonstrating to the world that its not just about being inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, it’s about citizens in those countries  wanting to have a better life for themselves and for their children. It’s about having their basic human rights. It’s about Respect and Dignity. It’s about people just being tired of being taken advantage of and not having their civil/human rights upheld. May the peoples’ quest for Peace, Justice, and Equality in their countries continue to motivate and inspired us.

I think in the U.S., there are thousands of people doing amazing work and some organizations that continue to hold it down, but the question is how do we unify our struggles. It appears that people and/or organizationss want to be the vanguards of the Revolution and as long as people keep having that mentality, the only revolution that they will get is an ego revolution that will make them more humble and/or more inclusive. For many of us who advocate and are homeless rights activist, we have been using homelessness as a social justice issue, therefore, making our issue part of the larger social justice movement. We understand that Homelessness is not just about Housing, but about Education, Children’s Rights, Women’s Rights, AIDS, Mental Health Services, Elderly, Youth and any other issue that people are fighting for. Only by all of us coming together and embracing each other’s issues will we be able to move forward and building a mass social justice movement. I like to say that Homelessness is the umbrella of social injustice. Whatever you are passionate about, you are bound to find someone that is homeless and living out the nightmare that you are trying to get rid off. One will find youth sleeping with their parents out in the cold concrete sidewalk cover with newspapers. One will see elderly sleeping in their wheelchairs with just a hooded sweater to try to keep them warm. Cats and dogs accompanying their owners and sometimes having better luck than their owners. One can find someone who is a teenage mother, who has recently been diagnosed with AIDS, suffering from chronic depression and trying desperately to find a place to live after being kicked out of the house by her supposedly boyfriend. In this example, one can see how homelessness is related with all the other issues. The media has depicted homelessness in a very negative way and by us continuing to believe that, the less we are bound to assist them. May our minds not be contaminated by what the media tells us. Let us start coming together and building a strong social justice movement, where it will be by the people, of the people, and for the people. Let us remember that the journey we have embarked on is one where the ultimate price is seeing someone’s dream become a reality and where they have the basic human needs in life due to our accompaniment, kinship, time, advocacy, gifts, embrace, respect, understanding and love. This is the journey that has shaped my life. This is the only path I know. There is no turning back for me. It is this human journey that continues to make me a student of life. It is this journey that one day we can creat that social justice movement.

2 Responses to “World Day of Social Justice”

  1. Alfredo Mathew Says:

    I appreciate your spirit as always Gerardo, and I love your focus on homelessness. As you explained it once to me, the sense that we all at times have not felt at home in this world is universal. What we lack is empathy and I don’t believe the U.N. or other geopolitical organizations are going to reflect a deeper concern for humanity and human rights until we on the micro level are able to manifest more love for our families and neighbors. The U.N. is a reflection of where we are. We have high ideals and the vocabulary of human rights, but we know in our hearts how far we are from living out these values in our daily lives. The U.N. is a post-WWII creation. The world has changed, as economies rise and shift, so do the players, but the game remains the same. Will Egypt’s revolution be so different?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks Alfredo for your input. You bring some good point for us to ponder. I agree with you that we on the micro level must carry that love for humanity and human rights. Indeed, the world has changed as well as the players. I feel we are living in an era where we must make modifications to the game. Egypt and Tunisia serve as examples on how we need to modify the game. We are not living in the 80s when basketball players were wearing short shorts. Just the same way, we are now living in an era where people are no longer afraid to express themselves and are more determined to fight for their human rights.

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