Conflict encompasses physical and moral struggles, from minor clashes of interest or principles to devastating wars. Conflict can have destructive consequences for those directly and indirectly involved. However, when inspired by the need for change – as in revolutions or protests – conflict can also be viewed as a powerful force for effecting positive social transformation.
The word ‘Justice’ comes from the Roman goddess of moral force Iustitita, representing all that is accepted as ethically right, fair and lawful. This point of view is rarely unanimous, however, and so justice is often viewed differently according to perspective and circumstance. Clause 40 of the Magna Carta declared: ‘To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.’
Liberty is a broad concept, and a foundation stone for human rights. It constitutes freedom from oppressive control by external or governing forces, including censorship and unlawful imprisonment; it is also experienced as a spiritual or mental state of emancipation, creativity or empowerment. A highly complex set of social values, the notion of liberty has been debated by philosophers and religious writers for centuries.
Money comes in many forms, from coins and paper currency to cheques, gold, silver and cowrie shells. Wherever it is issued, and in whatever form, money is the official, legal medium of exchange that can be used to attain goods or services of equivalent value, or to pay a debt. In many societies, where its accumulation is aspirational, money is a primary measure of wealth.
A power system – such as a democracy, monarchy, tyranny or oligarchy – describes a structure in which some people have the ability or right to control and influence others. Whether achieved by election or by force, it usually denotes the authority of the few over the many. In 1215, Magna Carta was more concerned with defining the power relationship between King John and his barons than with the rights of ordinary people.
Religion refers to a system of beliefs and cultural practices that question human nature and its place in the cosmos; these often, but not always, centre on a superhuman power such as a god or gods. The majority of people around the world are said to follow a religion, from which they might gain a moral code, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle.
Your rights encompass everything that you are morally or legally free to do, or entitled to. Many people consider every human being to be entitled to life, liberty, equality, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression. The rights that people actually enjoy vary greatly across the world and can depend on social, cultural or governmental factors.
The word ‘state’ is often interchangeable with ‘government’ – the authorities that oversee a country or part of it. However, the term can also refer to the territory itself, such as a nation state. The rights of individual citizens can vary greatly, depending on the laws of the state of which they are members. Nation states might be seen as a source of collective identity, or as a target for political or social opposition.
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2016… Bowie, Brexit and Trump. A year of developments that are as baffling as they are terrifying. Fittingly, ‘post-truth’ is the OED’s word of the year. Now is the time to question the status quo. Now is the time make your voice heard. As we begin to set our sights on 2017, what matters the most to you? What do you want to see happen?