Community service is voluntary work with the intention to help those in need in a particular area.Therefore it can be summed up as lending a hand with the intention to question injustices that exist. However, just doing that will not get you far realistically in terms of social justice and human rights because there are social, economical and political barriers to be broken. Also owing to the fact that you can serve many organizations, causes and movements remembering each has different levels and degrees, it would not be possible for community service to fully and holistically restore social justice and uphold human rights.
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Social justice is a broad idea and varies from what one believes but it is commonly defined as a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and social privileges. Social structure is a big part of social justice because we operate in a capitalist world where those on top have power and money, then there are those at the bottom who either contribute to capitalism or work for capitalists, thus making the idea of social justice multifaceted. Religion, race, gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation are all sides to social justice, in how it can be achieved. Therefore, with those factors it would not be realistic for community service alone to restore social justice. Statistics show how who you are, where you come from and how you look like has an effect on your life, such as in 2009 when 17% percent of white children, 32% of Hispanic children and 35% of black children below the poverty line in the US and how in South Africa 2018 50% of people live in poverty and 33% in extreme poverty. These statistics prove that our economy has to drastically improve (systemic change) and in order for that to happen our social structure that stems from institutional systems in era’s of oppression ( this justifying my argument) has to be broken down, reformed and then presented to world as new in order for real social justice and human rights to be restored and upheld.
Human rights are morals, principles and norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour , held by institutions that protect them as natural and legal rights in law, available to all kinds of people. In the world it’s justified for everyone to have a right regardless of who they are or what they have done, laws that hold rights are not meant to discriminate in anyway. However seeing that in other countries and in South Africa the standard to which principles were put up to are no longer what they used to be and law enforcers take advantage of their roles and don’t follow the rule book. Incidents such as Mduduzi Manana (Former South African deputy of Higher education and Training and member of parliament) getting away with beating up woman for so long and staying within the institution as a law enforcer after having broken laws and violated someone, goes to show how the having rights more so upholding them, even with proof and evidence is difficult in itself and asks, “If breaking laws due to committing crimes against people isn’t more of a reason to uphold human rights, how will doing good (community service) be? Unfortunately, it won’t be because we currently live in a world where it takes countless tragedies to occur before people take action to carry out actual transformation.
However, it’s not to say the community service is useless. When we serve we’re saying that we see the injustices and we’re here to lift the lid on them. We’re promoting social justice through our service. By volunteering you’re being an example and people will likely follow after you. Many people engage in volunteerism and charity work with the intention to not only speak out but act out, by standing with those they help. The benefits of community service are also multi beneficiary as the community is served, you’re gaining new skills and broadly but slowly poverty is being reduced. Studies by United health group state that 76% of people who have volunteered have been happier and that volunteering protects people from depression. Every time you lend a hand it means the organization will run smoothly and faster which means they’re spending less money on maintenance, allowing the ability to cater for more vulnerable people who are living in poverty. This proven by that fact that in 2014, there were 2,2 million volunteers compared to 1,3 million in 2010, constituting an increase of about 898 000 volunteers. The country’s volunteer rate increased by 2,1 percentage points to 5, 8% in 2014. The number of volunteered hours increased from the 419,2 million in 2010 to 610,4 million in 2014 and these hours were equivalent to 293 000 full time jobs. It’s a cycle to break the cycle of poverty.
As expressed, community service is a phenomenal activity to engage in for the greater good of those in need. However, it’s clear that you can not uphold human rights and restore social justice through community service alone but you can promote it, through your actions and words.
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