- Without hesitation, one may say that a just state in which the power of the privileged is curbed, and the rights of the poor are protected, will endure. For that reason most nations strive to establish exactly such a state, allowing for the possibility of happiness.
There is a basic need for the regular dispensing of justice. It is the underlying purpose of governments and their institutions. An outflow of natural law, justice, if given to all, ensures upward mobility, as well as the longevity of the state.
Without hesitation, one may say that a just state in which the power of the privileged is curbed, and the rights of the poor are protected, will endure. For that reason most nations strive to establish exactly such a state, allowing for the possibility of happiness.
Societies have romanticised the ever-pressing need within their literature, in which authors hover above like a divine raj; an almighty potentate influencing the fictional existence they conjure. In their make-believe world, they reconcile the divide between reality and wish, dispensing reasonable justice - as per the desire of their readers.
Yet, in spite of our cherished ideals: the cardinal principles upon which we all agree; justice remains mostly inaccessible to the masses. In the broadest sense of the concept, it is ordinarily not guaranteed. In fact, most people may only attain it with currencies which are scarce; namely: power, money, or social class. Even so, the need remains.
As the poor become inured by the bull of adversity, they succumb to a logical acceptance of their fate. In essence, they may attain a corrosive courage, the kind which allows one to accept defeat; much as a slave defers liberation. And as an elevation of debasement, our subjects may even embrace meekness; perhaps in fulfillment of Scripture. Yet, they would have done so with the hope of attaining the eventual settlement of universal indebtedness: The natural justice encoded in God’s Law.
Though all religions have addressed the problem, and while the wise of all ages have insisted upon the merits of fair play, injustice remains rampant. In Africa, as elsewhere, the poor remain vulnerable. Often they are unaware of their rights. In fact, their abject state leads them to beg for what is rightfully theirs to demand. Such ignorance leaves them at the mercy of the powerful; and so, they endure their lot, as if it were a need, an indispensible state of their existence.
The world is in need of just men. Men who can imagine change, and who are bold enough to ignore convention. They would resist the tranquiliser of conformity to power; knowing that a man’s life is diminished if his fellowman lives under bondage, coercion, or injustice.
I often imagine how the world would be if we reconciled this dysfunction within our social order. But accompanying such thought, reason whispers, telling of the dangers in siding with the poor. In fact, the reward for such alliance is often poverty; and the poor can never help the poor, except in becoming a martyr for the cause. And adding to that, such martyrdom is often brought about by one of those whom the martyr tries to lift up. Moreover, one’s efforts could be seen as a messianic complex, to be shunned by reasonable men. After all, it is more practical to bake a loaf of bread than to paint a picture of a utopian possibility based upon reason. And yet, in my opinion, the latter is more durable, and serves a higher purpose. In fact, no society is truly great until its pursuits surpass the desire for loaves.
But in spite of caution, I will state what is necessary; for in depriving the poor of justice we deprive ourselves of peace. Peace of mind, and a society in which the rule of law takes precedence.
Twenty years ago, I visited Jamaica’s circle of heroes; a plot in Kingston where Marcus Garvey and other deceased heroes are interned. On approaching the mausoleum of the late Prime Minister Michael Manley, I read his epitaph carved in the circle-shaped black granite that stands above the tomb. It was poignant so I memorised it. It read,
“The more I have thought about the morality of the politics, the more there has emerged for me a single touchstone of right and wrong, that touchstone is to be found in the notion of equality.”
The quote is from Manley’s book, The Politics of Change. The text is a worthwhile source for those who wish to create an egalitarian society. It gives insight into how we may address the problems, which seem entrenched in most societies.
The writer is the CEO of Grand Africa Literary Initiative Ltd