Awakening to Injustice; Bronwyn

Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities; looking around the world today it is clear that we do not live in a socially just society; rather in an inherently unequal one. We also live in an unprecedented era of globalisation and mass media, meaning we are increasingly aware of the injustices in modern Britain, Europe, and at a global scale. As William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know”. As a result of the unique insights technology, the internet and social media present us with this is truer for our generation than ever before.

Growing up in a household where food was never in short supply, I remember hearing phrases like “don’t leave that food on your plate, there’s starving children in Africa” and images of drought-ridden Sub-Saharan Africa being beamed into my living room through a TV screen. Therefore, even growing up in rural Northern Ireland, from a very young age I was familiar with the idea that in a place far away there are people suffering; they are hungry, they are sick, and they are dying. But what was I to do about that?

As I grew older, so too did my knowledge of inequality and I began to see injustice closer to home – I began to realise that although I lived in a wealthy country in global standards of wealth, not everyone stood on an equal footing in terms of opportunity, and community resources were disproportionately distributed.

Studying geography has always given me an opportunity to engage with ideas of global economic and social development. I have long been interested in the vast continent of Africa – its rich cultural diversity, its devastating record of poverty and troublesome history. Last summer I leaped at the chance to visit Sub-Saharan Africa; I visited Burkina Faso alongside the charity Mission Africa. Situated on the edges of the Sahara Desert, Burkina Faso often suffers from intense periods of drought and famine. It has the lowest literary rate in the world and is regularly ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world.

I stayed with their missionary, Ana Brakel, who lives in a rural village called Legmoin, approximately 6 hours’ drive from the capital city of Ouagadougou. Whilst my trip was primarily to be involved in running children’s summer camps and proclaiming the gospel, I was also able to see how Mission Africa is involved in several compassionate ministries which seek to demonstrate the reality of the Good News of Jesus in practical ways. The Burkina Faso Poor Fund provides practical support to those who need it most. Babies whose mothers have died are provided with substitute baby milk, Children are sponsored to go to school and medical bills are paid for those who are sick. During my month long stay there I had the opportunity to see the projects Ana coordinates- primarily working with young people in the local church, and supporting women in small scale economic enterprises to supplement their family income.

Having visited this country and seeing what the local church iss doing to improve literary rates and help families support their children to stay in education has been such an encouragement to me. I have friends in Burkina now who I regularly keep in contact with and I know how to pray for them and specifically what they are doing to see their communities become a fairer society.

In order to promote a just society injustice must first be challenged and there must be an increased valuing of diversity. Social justice can only exist when we recognise “all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.” [1]

As Christians, this is of the upmost importance as God cares deeply about this earth he created, and even more so for each and every person upon it. So whilst we live in a fallen world which is ravaged by injustice, pursuing justice is an act of obedience to God and a way of making the love of Christ visible on earth. In the Bible we read of how the Lord requires us to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with Him. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

I long to see the values of His kingdom be reflected in society here on earth. The first step to working towards a more just society is being aware of the injustices that exist. The next is actively taking small steps to work against them.

[1] http://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice

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