When, in the twenty-first century, we face growing socio-economic inequality across the world, the issue, “What Makes a Fair Society”, is, unfortunately, still pertinent. Pertinent for making us perceive that society isn’t fair and that it’s unfairness is a solvable issue. As within any problem (issue) in a complex structure, it (the issue) seems to originate and propagate from it´s basic parts, in this case, the human being – the essence of society. After centuries of revolutions and wars, mankind sought in 1948 to improve it’s performance in social terms by proclaiming, at the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we look carefully, at article 1, this statement summarizes the main intention — “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” I think it is in the second paragraph we find the dilemma: “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” In other words, the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, makes one’s rights, depend on effectively perform one’s duty’s towards other members of our human family in spirit of brotherhood. And what is the meaning of acting in a spirit of brotherhood? As we know, this is a philosophical concept that informed much French revolutionary thought, where the idea establishes that people, as political animals, make a conscious choice for life in society and to establish a relationship with each other on equal terms, because, in essence, there is nothing to differentiate us hierarchically: we are fraternal. Unfortunately, as political animals, humans seem to have forgotten the bond of equality with their peers and therefore the concept of the ‘spirit of fraternity’ is not working, as it has proven it’s ineffectiveness throughout history, and it is perceived that the current political model established in our society, centred on the individual and not in the community, is a failure, concerning fairness. This, we can observe in the way that we are educated and how we educate, both within the family or social scope or through the media; and finally through the economic policies implemented by those who govern us. Perhaps, though, the issue is not the ‘Political Order’ itself, but, and primarily, the lack of a ‘Moral Order’ where the economic concepts would be sub products (a subsequent result), and not the bases of the society. If so, what we need is a ‘Revolution of Mentalities’ – a much more demanding revolution to implement. Where every human being establishes with their neighbour a true equal relationship, not not only as a political animal, but as one with moral and civic values, where compassion towards each other is the highest value.
Ana Lima-Netto, Artist