Verbum Incarnatum


Francis Musa Boakari
University of the Incarnate Word
You see that stranger, she was your mother;
Yes, that unfamiliar individual way over there, will be your father;
Come to your senses, that unknown person should be your sister.
Re-member, that obscure fellow ought to be your very own brother.
Be mindful that she/he was and still is, your very self.
In fact, all of them were,  are, and will be, ALL THAT YOU ARE.
                                                                    (FMB, San Antonio: March, 2006).                                                                                               

I argue that for social justice to be real, it has to be understood in its essence as a relational requirement whereby, every individual human being must be equitably and permanently contemplated in everything that a society or community values so that people can become totally human. Its complex and ubiquitous nature is discussed, while I present some experiences to emphasize that formal education can contribute to some understanding and operationalization of social justice principles. I posit further that though social justice is collective, only individuals can make it a possibility. Finally,  there is a reminder about the need to transfer priorities from social justice discourse, to actively living social justice in an unquestionable manner.      

What Is At Stake In Discussing Social Justice?

     Social justice, like culture, is a complex concept to discuss. Both are integral parts of our lives as members of human society. Culture makes us what we are as human beings in society. It is our way of life. For some, it defines our existence itself. It determines how we relate to one another. Because of culture, we are able to make sense of the reality in which we live. Culture provides the dimensions from and within which we produce the materials and symbolic elements that make our existence as persons who interact with others possible. Culture expresses our beliefs and values, while it guides our behaviors. Indeed, culture is all that we are though we give it the power to influence our lives by determining and then collaborating with the different elements that compose it.

ΚΚΚΚ In the same way, it is social justice, or equity or social fair-play, in human relationships that determines how we understand, shape and operate being together as individual persons dependent upon other people. It is this dependency - better still, interdependency - that essentially makes us living beings whose humanity is basically possible because of other people. In the absence of some degree of social fair-play, life with others would be difficult, if not impossible. Because of social justice, we can afford to be future-oriented by hoping, planning, and developing expectations whose realization we consider highly possible. How then do we discuss that which is the essence of what we are? Will such a discussion be realistic without a totally human engagement that involves our thinking and feelings, as well as our physical, moral, and spiritual endowments? If social equity serves as the instrument and the framework within which we can be considered humans in relationships with other individuals, how can this concept be approached without an appeal to the human condition in all its richness and