I believe in many things. One thing I believe in is justice. I believe strongly in equality. I expect equality, after all it is a human right, don’t you think? (Going back for a moment I’ve just realised that I wrote ‘believe strongly’ and thinking about it I wonder if anyone can ever believe anything weakly? If there is weak belief then surely there is doubt and it follows that there is no belief at all? So, ‘believe strongly’ must be tautology I think.)
Anyway, as I was saying I believe in justice. And I believe in equality. I do, however, know that justice and equality mean different things to different people and they always have through the ages. We learn about injustice early in life.
From childhood we are used to standing up for our rights. I know that many a time I have pleaded to my parents that the fault that they had discovered or problem they had uncovered wasn’t mine, those world famous words slipped from my lips, “I didn’t do it.” Usually my protests fell on deaf ears, especially if I had been set up as I was one day by my two sisters. I remember pleading to my mother in vain that I was not the only guilty person.
What had happened was I was reading - even as a child I loved to read and get lost in the stories of other people and places - and when I looked outside I saw my younger sister and one of my older sisters playing on the garden bench. They were playing make-believe. There were dolls and a tea set – not my cup of tea (excuse the pun) but really, it wasn’t. Nevertheless I decided it was time to go outside and play with them. They encouraged me to join them, so I did. They had been making mud pies and plastering the long garden bench with their creations; I thought that was a fun thing to do so I started mixing up and slapping on my portion of the mud. Suddenly, I realised I was alone out there and my two sisters were inside laughing at me. This realisation came about because our mum had knocked on the kitchen window. When I looked up I saw that she wasn’t happy with what she saw me doing. The bench, a six foot long wooden structure, was filthy. And I was there gaily splashing the mixture into the tea set.
It didn’t matter how much I tried to explain that I had only just gone out there and that the others had made the most of the mess, I was the only one mum saw out there so I was guilty as far as she was concerned.
I had to wash all the mud off the entire bench – on my own – then I had to scrub it down with a hard brush to make sure all the mud was gone. I cried the whole way through. I cried because it wasn’t fair. But all my mum said to me was “Wash it with yu best neck, Miss B.” My sisters stayed inside and laughed at me no matter how much I tried to explain the truth. So I alone took the chastisement having being labelled as Miss Bad.
The injustice of that day stayed with me for a long time. My sisters still find amusement in it. They think it was funny that I got told off and that I got the punishment for the fun they had and the mess they made.
I, on the other hand, still view that memory with a tinge of sadness. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that we all hate injustice against ourselves and we are quick to exclaim “I didn’t do it” when falsely accused. We are immediately distressed and can carry the wound of unfairness for a long time. What this causes me to wonder is why then, when injustice is perpetrated against another human do we stand mute? Surely we should clamour for equality and shout “It’s not fair” as loudly as if it were for us personally? Wouldn’t we appreciate it if someone stood up for us when we were obviously wronged?We have opportunities every day