Tuesday, August 06, 2013

We need to address inequity and inequalities
By Editor
Mon 22 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

KANNI Wignaraja, the United Nations resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Zambia, says that "we have to address inequity and inequality before it breaks the very backbone of our countries and turns into a sense of injustices".

This is true because if this country is not good for all of us, it won't be good for any of us. This country will not be a good place for any of us to live unless it's a good place for all of us to live in.

We shouldn't allow all the work that has gone on here to benefit just a few. And unless we start to address the inequities and inequalities that we today have in our country, none of the things we seek to do will ever take us where we need to go. Unless we do something about inequity and inequalities, we will not be able to repair this country.

We have to abandon greed and selfishness. We have to stop ignoring each other and caring only about ourselves. A nation that calls itself a Christian nation cannot allow the inequities and inequalities that exist among us to continue. As people who call themselves Christians, we have to quickly and resolutely deal with these inequalities. We have to struggle against these inequalities without respite and realise that if we are to live in the world and are to be regarded as a decent nation, a decent people, we have to act up to different and higher standards than we have been following in the last two decades or so. We should resent most bitterly these inequalities and this unconcern for the lives of the poor.

These inequalities remind us that we have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any of us till we remove these inequities and inequalities, till we make all the people of this country what destiny intended them to be.

We have to govern and manage the affairs of our country in a way that will help us to quickly end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard to make the dream of ending inequity and inequality a reality. We have to bring opportunity to the common man; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.
Inequities and inequalities are terrible things. Look at the effect that equality has on human beings and their happiness! People need more than nshima; they need honour, dignity, respect and to be treated like human beings. Inequality causes terrible suffering.

We have to share what we have as a nation. We cannot continue to have gross inequalities, with some having much more than they need and dying of heart attacks and cholesterol, while others starve to death. We should share everything - our country belongs to all of us, and so do its riches.

All our people must be made to feel they count; they are a part of society; they have a national dignity and a homeland. Here, we are talking about things that, in our opinion, constitute true humanitarianism, the policy of promoting the dignity of human beings and their wellbeing. Inequality causes terrible suffering.
A comprehensive approach is required to fight this situation and to struggle for diminishing or eradicating such inequalities in our country.

Some people say inequities and inequalities are inevitable. But a more just, fair and humane society is built upon the belief that inequities and inequalities are not an inevitable and necessary part of human life. They are ultimately a product of human decisions and can be eradicated by human decisions. This is so because when we speak of "the economy", we are speaking of policies and plans which control the wealth and resources of the country, about how resources are distributed between people, and about how the means of production - such as land, factories and technology - are owned and controlled. It is sometimes suggested that economic laws, like the basic laws of nature, are beyond human control; that we can no more influence them than we can defy gravity or stop the motion of planets. Therefore, it is argued, the existence of poverty and unemployment, and the inequitable distribution of wealth, are the result of inescapable economic laws, and must be accepted as such. When suffering and even death flow from these "inevitable facts of economic life," that is simply unfortunate, it is said, just as it is unfortunate when suffering and death result from a natural disaster. Although we sympathise with the victims of an earthquake or a flow, we do not consider such natural occurrences unjust or immoral. In the same way, the argument continues, we should not regard an economic system as unjust or immoral, though we regret the suffering, inequities and inequalities that may be part of such a system. Some people will be poor, some rich, inevitably and unavoidably, just as some will be victims of earthquakes and floods, and some will not.

This argument must be rejected. It fails to take into account the fact that economic consequences - poverty, inequities and inequalities - come about as a result of human agency. At the heart of every economic system lies human needs, human abilities and human decisions, and it is the choices which we make in addressing those needs, sharing those abilities, and making those decisions, that determine the justice or injustice of an economic system. The more powerful our economic position, the greater our freedom of choice, with the poor and marginalised having very little effective choice in their economic decision-making. There is thus a moral quality about an economy, a quality which has its roots in the morally correct or incorrect choices by people; and it is the moral quality of the economy that enables us to make judgments about whether or not it is a just economy.
Therefore, poverty, inequities and inequalities are some of the indicators of an unjust economy. The fact that untold thousands die every year from lack of food, lack of basic healthcare and lack of shelter is an indicator of economic injustice. As a nation, we need to develop a social conscience which recognises the injustice of poverty, unemployment, inequities and inequalities and which leads us to take action against it. Undoubtedly, the development of an effective social conscience will not happen quickly. It will have to be striven for, and the striving will have to be widespread, involving all sectors of society.

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