I see it all the time online: Someone wanting a little peace, or empathy, or respect is told that they’re asking too much. I’ve read over and over some variation of “grow up”. It gets tiresome reading “The world isn’t fair.”
The world isn’t fair; not on a scale that humans can understand. Children who have yet to speak a word can be terminally ill. Weather can destroy a neighborhood. Disease can spread randomly through a city. None of those things seem fair from our perspective. Fairness may not be naturally occurring.
But, we have worked and fought illness. We’ve developed technology to protect people from natural disaster. We do all we can to give those born with illness and disability a life of dignity and worth, even if it is still shorter than the average. Justice may not be natural, but neither are glass, steel, or concrete.
Humans have crafted medicine, shelters, and prosthetics. We have also crafted laws and policies that protect those who are marginalized. We have made the world safer as well as more just. Those things are fragile, though; they require maintenance.
We haven’t gotten it just right, but we have made progress.
We’ve put “content warnings” on movies for decades now, warning us about nudity or language or violence. “Safe spaces” have existed in the form of fraternities, clubs, man caves and she sheds. People named Margaret can choose to be called Peggy and people named Theodore to be called Ed. We’ve allowed all the things that people mock in other forms. Why are we still mocking people for trying to be happy, to feel safe, in a world that isn’t fair?
We can make the world more fair; help people be happier. We can show them the respect and dignity that they deserve.
A great philosopher once wrote that the Universe does not contain one atom of justice. The truth is that we have to believe in justice to make it real; we have to invest in it to manifest it. We can make the world better than its natural state. We can build the Beloved Community. It requires working together. We have to create institutions that pool our resources and put them to work. Those institutions have to be empowered to enact justice.
Trust me, some people aren’t going to be happy when this change happens. Some people benefit from the injustice that is in place. We have to do it anyway.
We have the ability to change things. They may never be perfect, but we can make them better. I am tired of seeing people mocked for seeking justice and equity. The whole of human history has been a struggle against the injustice of nature. From harnessing fire and agriculture to forging representative governments to defend human rights: We’ve always been better because we struggled, together, to be better.
Justice may not have a naturally occurring form, but we can build it.