How can there be peace if there is no social justice?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

This coming Christmas, perhaps the most compelling among the peoples’ aspirations is peace. Peace in Mindanao, peace in the South China Sea, peace between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF, peace with the rebels,  with the secessionists and terrorists. We long for peace in the cities and in the countryside, peace in government and in the private sector, in the factories, offices and other work areas, peace between employees and employers, between tenants and landlords, between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the powerless, between the ruling elite and the marginalized least, and among the poorest of the poor. We pray for peace in the nation, in the provinces, cities and towns, barangays and villages, peace in the communities and peace in the family.

All the peacemakers in history will tell us that any peace based on fear, driven by compulsion, authoritarianism, and dictatorship will not be genuine. Such kind of peace would be a farce, fake, and simulated. It is precarious and will not last long. The only lasting and permanent peace is the one that is based on justice, all kinds of justice, civil and criminal justice, political and cultural justice, and yes, social justice. And all these dimensions of justice do mutually reinforce each other. Conversely, when there is economic injustice, there shall necessarily come about political injustice, and then cultural and social injustice. Thus, there is no peace, there is no genuine peace.

The seeming absence of violence does not necessarily mean that there is peace. It may just be the silence, the lull before the storm.

From the teachings of many Nobel Prize winners coming from all over the world, like Mother Teresa (now a saint), Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, James Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Kofi Annan, Aung San Su Kyi, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres, the Dalai Lama, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., all taught us that there can be no peace without justice. The rich and the super-rich inside their mansions, even when supported by guards and underlings, servants and assistants, are never at peace when their luxurious palaces and castles are surrounded by squatter colonies, the millions of marginalized, homeless, hopeless, hungry, and angry men and women. The landlords are not safe when the tenants are starving. The employers are not safe nor at peace when the workers are having many unresolved grievances.

In the Philippines today, the taipans who own the giant malls and hotels, banks and factories are making a lot money, some of them are not paying minimum wages to their workers. Many of them are cheating their own employees in the computation of wage-related benefits, like overtime pay and thirteenth-month pay. A lot of employers are deducting their workers’ wages illegally. They do not remit contributions to the SSS, PhilHealth, and PAG-IBIG and a number are evading taxes and duties. There are rampant violations of health and safety rules and workers are not protected from accidents and from hazards to health and security. How can there be peace when there are so many forms of injustice?

If the rich want to celebrate Christmas in peace, they should look at their own records of social injustice, committed by themselves or by their agents and underlings. As long as these many forms of injustices are addressed, there can be true and lasting peace. Without this there can be no happy Christmas either.

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