Why is genuine social justice so hard to achieve? I have reflected on this question for quite a bit of time. And I have come to the conclusion that there are several answers to it. That is, there are several reasons as to why it is so hard to achieve genuine social justice.
For one, genuine social justice is hard to achieve because most of us are selfish. Yet the attainment of genuine social justice would require a high degree of selflessness. Our nature is such that we tend to parrot about social justice as long as our individual interests are not threatened. But once the prospect of genuine social justice starts threatening our petty individual interests, we withdraw. And as it turns out, genuine social justice indeed threatens very many people’s individual interests. That is why it is so hard to achieve.
Secondly, genuine social justice is hard to achieve because its pursuit can quite easily upset the social order. Human society tends, by definition, to be stratified. It seems to work best that way. The people in the different levels have different stakes in the society. They are inclined to protect the system, in order to protect their stakes in it. Consequently, the entire society is protected. But pursuit of genuine social justice would demand for that stratified edifice to be dismantled, and everybody brought to the same level. This prospect is terrifying to many people, including the powerful actors who control the society.
Thirdly, genuine social justice is hard to achieve because it has very few champions. There are very few people who are genuinely committed to it. Generally, folks tend to accept the social statuses they find themselves in. Those who are in the higher statuses have learnt to enjoy them. Those who are in the lower statuses have learnt to endure them. Everyone seems to ‘know their place’. Nobody questions the system. Therefore, nobody is truly championing genuine social justice. And unfortunately, the war for genuine social justice can’t be won without committed soldiers.