The effect of social injustice spans through several areas of our lives from children’s mental health to family stability, personal and societal economy, and the list goes on. Social injustice is not limited to developing countries as we’ve seen first world countries struggle with fairness when handling the needs of their societies. The people in government have shown time and time again to be numb to the pain and desires of their countrymen when we protest against these abnormalities. And even in all these, we still mourn the loss of; our siblings, our children, the jobs we depend on, the businesses we build despite the government’s lack of support, and so on.
I sometimes wonder if there is a nation that is fair through and through, with every member of the society satisfied, but I doubt there is.
By definition, social injustice is the act of not being fair socially and economically, depriving people of their basic human rights and making them incapable of exercising their franchise in the simplest possible ways, hence preventing them from having their basic human needs met.
Social injustice is sadly common all over the world and is exhibited either directly or indirectly. The rights of the majority are ignored or overhauled, and the violation of a person’s human rights results in the inhibition of one’s ability to exercise his/her full potential, invariably resulting in low economic and social output by affected individuals. Examples of social injustice include racism, ageism, prejudice, poverty… the list goes on.
Social injustice varies according to cultures: what one culture/country considers normal might not be seen so in other cultures/countries. For instance, homosexuality is accepted in some countries, whereas in some countries, it is seen as a taboo. Regardless, there is a general concept of what is right and what is wrong, and we have our basic human rights.
Depending on the concept of social injustice you’ve chosen to look at; from wealth distribution relative to labor, skill and responsibility, prejudice, discrimination, religion, homophobia, racism, patriotism, capitalism, ageism, stereotyping, and sexism, we can say that social injustice occurs when the burden given to a group of people is higher than their reward and their disadvantages are far more than their advantages.
Several people have spoken up against social injustice in relation to their societies. Sometimes, it yields excellent results, and the people in power make the necessary adjustments, and other times, they are met with strong opposition from the government. For instance, the recent protests in Nigeria. The opposition from the government increased at a terrifying rate, giving hoodlums a chance to interfere with the protest and causing the peaceful protesters to retreat. The leaders also tried preventing interference from other nations, including the United States and even the United Nations, and tried shaming Twitter’s CEO for supporting the movement.
The lingering question on our minds now is why isn’t this issue addressed since it’s so rampant? Well, social injustice is now so ingrained into the society that it’s almost like the normal way of living. Society is now divided into different classes where we have the privileged and the non-privileged; the rich and the poor; and all these create enormous differences in the justice system, where one group can act above the law and the other is more or less a slave to the law. Hence, the less concern shown by the government and overlooking of the “rampant” issues by the same government that ought to protect and cater to the needs of every member of their society.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE
The effects of social injustice cannot be over-emphasized, as there are effects at every angle. These effects can be personal, economic, health-related, and so on. Mind you, health isn’t limited to headache, cancer, or diabetes; health effects can also be mental, emotional, and so on. In a nutshell, social injustice not only affects the economic status of a country but also affects the citizens (especially people who have been directly affected).
Psychological effects of Social Injustice
- A wrong sense of Justice
The disparity between what is right and what is wrong can sometimes affect the relative thinking of individuals, especially with kids. Their inability to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right and bringing this wrong mindset into their day-to-day relationships and interaction with society can be destructive rather than being constructive. Recently, there has been a rise in bullying and anti-social behaviors among youths. These acts can be traced to their wrong perception of what is right and what is not. Justification and gratification are pursued based on self-interest and lack of consequences. Discrimination now seems normal because of the mentality that possessing a higher social status gives them immunity.
- Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is when you think less of yourself and your capabilities; it’s not something that happens on its own, but it is often as a result of how one has been treated in previous times. In a society where there is social injustice and the fundamental rights of the people are being abused, it results in the people thinking their voice doesn’t matter, whereas neglecting the fact that the power of the people is more powerful than the people in power.
Majority of the world practice ‘The Democratic system of government,’ which is simply the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But, when the rights of the people have been continuously trampled upon for years, their voices become weakened. Unless there is a push, the people might not raise their voices anymore.
For instance, the Biblical story of the Israelites: they were numerically more than the Egyptians and also stronger, but because of years of slavery and constant oppression, they bowed under the stripes of their masters and concluded that they had no power. It was when Moses came to voice their requests to Pharaoh that they began to see hope.
Victims of social injustice with constant exposure to undeserving oppression are at risk of being depressed. Imagine losing a family member, friend, or colleague to injustice, the thought of not seeing them ever again can break you completely and make you lose touch with reality.
Unfortunately, many people get to the point where they would rather die than hope in a bleak future. The effect of a parent losing a child, a wife losing her husband, or even a friend losing a friend to these societal imbalances can make those who are left behind suicidal. It’s like a domino effect, one event leads to other events.
When the voices of the people aren’t heard but met with more injustice instead, it puts fear in the hearts of people. Hearing gunshots scare me a lot, and I become afraid because of the government’s insensitive and brutal reaction to the peaceful protest of fellow Nigerians. And fear leads to panic attacks, heart attack, high blood pressure, and death even.
Physical effects of Social Injustice
- Damage to life and property
Social injustice in most parts of the world often leads to casualties, be it in form of human lives or properties. During the Black Lives Matter protest in the USA, several small businesses lost their shops and goods to looting, and we can see a similar trend in the recent uprising in Nigeria. The sad part is that these losses are majorly attributed to innocent people who are simply fighting for a better nation and innocent business owners, whose businesses have nothing to do with the problem of the nation.
- Loss of jobs
Losing businesses automatically brings about the loss of people’s jobs. Imagine a mall with lots of staff looted and burnt, leaving the mall owner devastated and staff hopeless because they just lost their source of income.
- Economic crisis
Both physical and psychological effects combined lead to an economic crisis. In times of social injustice and with citizens protesting, it can never be business as usual, and with daily activities obstructed, the economy will surely get the hit. Also, when hoodlums hijack protests and turn it into an avenue to wreak havoc on private and public-owned businesses, the overall economy of the country is affected.
As we now know, social injustice is not something society can get rid of; it’s always there, ready to shoot its ugly head given the chance.
In these times when our cry against injustice is met with a negative reaction, and fear of the above effects creep in, we are our best companion, sympathizer, and empathizer as citizens. In those times, protecting your mental health is a must, and it’s advisable to take breaks from graphics that can trigger your anger. Also, take other necessary measures to keep yourself, family, loved ones, even strangers safe, because once again, we are our best companion, sympathizer, and empathizer.
Regardless of the unfairness we face daily, don’t stop fighting for a society whose goal is to cater to the needs of all its citizens.