The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/62/10 proclaimed 20 February of each year as the World Day of Social Justice with an emphasis on the reduction of poverty in the spirit of the “People’s Revolution.”
The term “the People’s Revolution” was first officially used by Henry A. Wallace, the then Vice-President of the United States in setting out US war aims in 1942. This was the first time that the war aims of a State were not stated in terms of “national interest” and focused on the demands that had produced the start of the war. Wallace, who had first been Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture and who had had to deal with the severe depression facing US agriculture, was proposing a world-wide “New Deal” based on the cooperative action of all of humanity.
“The people’s revolution is on the march. When the freedom-loving people march – when the farmers have an opportunity to buy land at reasonable prices and to sell the produce of their land through their own organizations, when workers have the opportunity to form unions and bargain through them collectively, and when the children of all the people have an opportunity to attend schools which teach them truths of the real world in which they live – when these opportunities are open to everyone, then the world moves straight ahead…The people are on the march toward ever fuller freedom, toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul.”
Today, we still hear the demands, world wide, of farmers to own land under sure conditions, to receive a fair price for their crops as well as the right to organize to protect their interests. We hear the cries of industrial and urban workers to be able to organize and to have their work appreciated for its full value. We hear the demands of students and the young for an education that opens minds and prepares for meaningful work.
While the forces of the status quo are still strong and often heavily armed, the People’s Revolution is a wave of all moving together, with deep currents below the surface. The tide moves with only a few visible waves, but the aspirations are collective. There are few individual leaders, but there are collective demands for social justice and dignity. This is the true meaning of the World Day of Social Justice.
René Wadlow is a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Task Force on the Middle East, president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens, and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.