The other day, a friend of the Alligator opinions editor asked her why she wants to fight injustice. Being honest, Abby said herself she didn’t know how to answer the question with anything other than the elementary and unimpressive response: “because it’s wrong.” Now to use one of those activist buzzwords, we at the Alligator are going to “unpack” this question.
Before diving in, it’s important to note the question was purely inquisitive. This person recognizes societal injustices are wrong, but they wanted to task our opinions editor with the explanation. We can talk incessantly about our grievances with injustice and desires to improve the world through equality. We should have the answer as to why, right? But it’s hard to clearly explain the driving force behind our desires to end injustice or how to do it.
To be entirely honest with you, we at the Alligator don’t know how to explain injustice — nor do we know what it means to solve it. That, right there, is exactly what is holding all of us back.
It seems our society hasn’t reached a desirable level of equality because no one can really explain what a society free of injustice looks like. Or, for that matter, what injustice even is.
It’s basic knowledge that injustice arises when people are given an unfair advantage or when people are shorted due to circumstances they can’t control. But this interpretation doesn’t provide a clear call to action or an apparent end goal. At what point have we become a society free of injustice?
When you look up the definition of injustice on dictionary.com, you’ll see it means “the quality or fact of being unjust” or, more simply, “inequity.” When you look up the meaning of inequity, you’ll find it can be defined either as a “lack of equity” or “unfairness.” We’ll spare you attempts to define the word unfairness and the slew of other ambiguous terms that follow.
The search for a concrete definition of injustice was deficient in the type of substantial answer we were looking for. It did help to understand the fundamental challenges of fighting injustice.
If injustice is nothing more than a lack of justice and fairness, then the first step toward eradicating injustice is to decide what it means to be just. But again, the definition of what it means to be just is similarly cryptic to the definitions of inequality and injustice.
The most logical approach is for the world to set the terms of a just society and then decide if it’s capable of existing. This raises another question: Who decides the terms of a just society?
It’s our belief for a society to ever be considered fair or just, the people need to decide together what fair means. In a society as large as the U.S., this poses yet another challenge. Even if every American were to vote on what they feel a just society consists of, there will be people who lose. There will be people whose ideas will not prevail, and they will continue to fight and continue to see the world as an unjust place. The truth is, no two people are going to have the same idea about what a just society is. Even if they did, laws don’t solve injustice. People do.
The only true way we can fight injustice is on an individual level. The problem with efforts to eradicate injustice right now is we are working on too large a scale. It is unreasonable and too idealistic to believe every person in the world, or even in a community, can agree on what it means to have a just society.
Thus, each of us need to hold ourselves accountable to create and promote the justice we want to see. This could mean standing up for someone falling victim to prejudice. This could simply mean recognizing your own privilege and using your advantages to help those less fortunate. In actuality, you have the power to stop injustices around you, and that is the only way they are going to be solved.