Justice within a system

In last weeks blog week I posted a speech I gave in Trafalgar Square at a protest gathering which was calling for the current South African president to step down (this was off the back of the major social and economic crisis the country is facing as a result of his corrupt leadership)… The week before that we were finishing off a series on human trafficking… And now in this post I’m introducing the next series of blogs which will be looking at cloth nappy-ing.

How on earth can we swing from modern day slavey to a constitutional crisis to the nappies you choose to put your babe in? What interest could someone passionate about social justice and race relations, who started following the blog off the back of last week’s post (hi to you guys who did – thanks for joining us!) possibly have in this next series?

The answer my friends, is a choice to see justice systemically rather than getting passionate about single-issue crises.

You see it’s all linked. Economics, society and our environment are inextricably intertwined. But we’re not good at dealing with this complexity… We all tend of have our pet interests.

I’ve always had a social justice button. It’s easily pushed. It arrived when I was very young, nurtured by my parents. It was only well into my studies that I started to see the multiple links between social and economic justice. The environment was never really my concern though… There was just too much other stuff to care about and work towards. My care-tank was full.

Only recently – probably in the last 2-3 years – have I really started to see the links between climate and environment issues and social and economic issues. The way, for example, that you could cut down the whole Amazon rain forest and it would be measured as progress in our current economic system because of the money it would make.

Progress? Really?

Or the way the richest countries who produce and consume the most are largely the cause of current climate change levels, but it’s generally the poorest countries who face the resultant turbulent weather because of where they are geographically. These are the countries that just don’t have the resources to cope. And then conveniently it’s the richest countries who are the quickest to say that climate change isn’t man made therefore absolving themselves of the responsibility to respond.

Justice? Really?

And so instead of seeing it as a whole bunch of big problems that could very quickly overwhelm me, I started to think about it as a broken system. In a way this helps because it’s one issue rather than millions. In another way it’s even more challenging because I have to commit to learning, unlearning and relearning how these things work and are interrelated.

This also means I have to start thinking about my role and my response systemically. I don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing and saying I’ll care about this but not about that.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint and there are definitely things we’re not doing at the moment which I know we should be. So I guess the challenge is not getting all legalistic on myself or others but rather to know that there’s no way I can do or know everything now, and there’s a good chance I’m doing something that I don’t realise is not the way to go. But if I’m committed to learning and trying to understand more and then committed to taking steps wherever I can to change my lifestyle then I’m on the right track.

That’s why we started this blog. It’s a space to share inspiring stories of change around some of the interlocking areas of justice. To hear about the things other people are doing and thinking and to learn from their journeys.

I’ve found that another valuable step to take is to get involved in advocacy and to put my voice behind various justice causes – signing up for emails from the likes of Avaaz, change.org or 38 degrees (depending on where you are in the world) who work on a range of issues which I may not be able to research in depth on my own.

And so while the human cost of modern day slavery can in no ways be compared to anything to do with reusable nappies, the challenge I’d like to throw out to you is to put on another pair of lenses as you read the blogs this month and try to think a little systemically and ask yourself, as you read these next couple of blogs what environmental justice means  and looks like in your life.

Enjoy 🙂

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Sue Hobbs says:

    well written Sarah. I so agree, my care-tank is over full but my heart is with you

    Like

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