A Courtroom of conscience
By Talha Masood
Every human born is woven into the fabric of their respective societies from the time of their birth till the time of their death. Our social settings play a significant role in modeling our individual potentials for greater good and evil. It then falls upon us to adequately equip ourselves with the understanding of social awareness and constituents of a balanced society, which is based on social justice and equality. It also lies upon us on what exactly is our socio-economic responsibility as individuals, in advancing the cause of humanity. It is to this end, that in December of 2008, the UN made an official declaration for the entire world to celebrate World Day of Social Justice on February 20 of every year.
To begin with, let us first endeavor to understand, why is it so important to acknowledge the celebrations of this day? And what exactly would we achieve in our individual capacity by doing so? To answer this let us just reflect for a moment that if you would wish to live in a world where your mother, wife, sister or daughter are looked down upon, or just considered inferior in any way? Would it be a life worth living, if your handicapped siblings were excluded from the pleasures of a normal life, which you so luxuriously enjoy? And would you, yourself suffer your own identity to be distorted by the rapidly growing globalization, or your fortune to be compromised by an ever-looming threat of your joblessness? If any of these questions are slightly unpleasant to you then you could understand the importance of a Global day like this.
All these behaviors, which question the very humanity of our existence, have plagued our society to a degree where we have begun to accept these undeserving behaviors as common practices of our daily lives. Our women, so superfluously respected in the tales of our past are today subjected to such defilement of their true sanctity that if the beating of their heart had a voice, you would often hear a heart-wrenching lament of physical abuse, domestic violence, and socio-economic discrimination in matters of prestige and privileges. Our trans genders are so disgustingly looked down upon, that their own parents who were supposed to be their epitome of love, affection and support choose to flee before the judgments of society, and abandon their innocent children to rot in a life of deprivation and depravity.
Yet, the pain which pierces my soul the most, with a knife-sharp agony is that of my siblings; those of my worthy brothers and sisters, who like myself are dwellers of the same darkness and live in a world of sounds and shadows. Notwithstanding our qualifications, which are our own tributes to our struggles for normalcy, and testify to the extraordinary efforts of our family and friends, our teachers and fellow students, we are often denied the opportunities to explore our potential as fully functional members of our society; simply because we are afraid to fail in performing our assigned tasks. It is a fear, which stems out of ignorance and unawareness, and is nursed by pride, which sometimes gets compromised when working with a disabled and by prejudice against the abilities of such special, differently able persons.
Here I quote a few instances of my friends who have been unfairly discriminated on the basis of their special needs in a recruitment process for a job. One of my friends, who is a psychiatrist has kept an entire folder of his rejection letters of which were mostly based on his sightlessness. Another occurrence where my friend was openly told that though he has been academically qualified for the job but the Institution was still bound to not hire him, owing to their own reservations about how he would manage to teach his students and chose to reject him on this basis.
It is to address and resolve such countless issues of social injustice that the world social justice day is celebrated. The demands of social justice entail that we begin to acknowledge the significance of every individual’s contribution to making a society. It requires us to uphold its values by doing all that we can, in providing equal opportunities for the intellectual, social, or economic growth of any individual. Whether a special, differently able person, an ill-treated unfairly merited woman, an ignored or an overlooked transgender, an abused child, an elderly, neglected senior citizen, a rejected or despised ethnic or religious minority, all deserve to be treated with respect and valued as an indispensable asset for the progress of our global society. Societal Justice cannot be found in legal courts or political addresses. It is something that falls directly in the jurisdiction of your own heart and soul.
In essence, all of us are bound in a sacred duty towards each other. So let us all take an oath in that most sacred of all courts, called conscience, to re-evaluate our own actions and to redirect them towards maintaining the sanctity of every living person, and to administer this justice in all our circles private and public alike.