Balancing the Scales on Feb. 20, World Day of Social Justice - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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February 20, 2019

Balancing the Scales on Feb. 20, World Day of Social Justice

 

On November 26, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared that, starting from the 63rd session of the General Assembly, February 20 would be the day set aside each year to celebrate World Day of Social Justice.

Social justice for all is at the core of the UN’s global mission to promote development and human dignity. “Social justice” is defined as including issues of poverty, unemployment and unfair exclusion that results in economic harm or social ostracism.

The UN writes:

“Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”

A great way to raise awareness of the need for better social justice both within nations and between nations is to learn more about the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ - Matthew 25:40

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as evidence of a commitment to human rights, non-discrimination and a promise to leave no one behind.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs “are a groundbreaking, inclusive global initiative to eradicate poverty and achieve a better future for all on a healthy planet,” according to Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. “The Agenda and Goals reflect the voices of millions of people from all over the world, and their aspirations for the future they want.”

The map of the just world we seek

You can learn a lot about the 17 SDGs on the UN’s site. Here’s a quick look at four of them along with a relevant social-justice-related Bible verse.

 

Goal 1: No Poverty

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. - 1 John 3:17-18

The UN reports that 783 million people live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day. Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include:

  •       Hunger and malnutrition (One in four children under age 5 in the world has an inadequate height for his or her age.)
  •       Limited access to education and other basic services
  •       Social discrimination and exclusion
  •       The lack of participation in decision-making

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. - Matthew 25:35-36

Globally, one in nine people in the world today are undernourished, according to the UN. We need a profound change in the global food and agriculture system to nourish the 815 million people who are hungry today and the additional 2 billion people expected to be undernourished by 2050.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28

The UN’s 2030 Agenda includes a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This goal gives “renewed impetus to ending all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.”

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, states: “This target reflects global recognition that eliminating violence against women and girls is key to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, which in turn are essential conditions for sustainable development.”

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.

Matthew 10:42

 The UN states: “Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and there is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people including children die every year from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.”

  •       Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.
  •       At least 892 million people continue to practice open defecation.
  •       Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise.
  •       4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.
  •       More than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal.

 Leaning out for love and connectivity

Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications in the UN’s Department of Public Information, notes that the SDGs are especially important for the youth of the world. They provide the means by which the UN can help satisfy the young generations' "emotional and existential" demand for love and connectivity.

Smale states: “Everyone, but particularly the youth of today who will dominate tomorrow, has the chance to shape what that world will look like. And to communicate to those who still doubt or do not know that they have this incredible chance to mold their existence.”

If you’d like to learn more about professions that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to chat with you. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your education goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email web@geneva.edu.