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Unit 6 Paper

Is it not all about Justice?!

Hisham El Sherbini


Team 2

January 2018
Table of Contents
1. Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 1

2. First Iteration – Second-Person Inquiry into Justice with AMSR Colleagues .................................. 2

3. Second Iteration – Second-Person Inquiry into Justice with Friends and Contacts ....................... 4

4. Conclusion, Reflection and Next Actions ........................................................................................ 7

5. References ...................................................................................................................................... 8
Hisham El Sherbini Unit 6 Paper


Everyone talks about Justice! Whether Greek philosophers (such as Aristotle, over 2000
years ago), Saints (such as Saint Augustine, 500 years later so), American statesmen (such as
Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the US in 1750s-1800s), Civil Rights &
Political Activists (such as Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s-1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. in
1960s and Jodie Evans), Novelists (such as James Baldwin), Playrights and Poets (such as
Wole Soyinka) and British Prime Ministers (such as William Gladstone in 1860s-1890s and
even Churchill in 1940s-1950s (probably his only quote about justice is the one above!))
(Brainyquote, 2017)1.

Please note that the quotes above have been attributed to the corresponding individuals but no independent
validation of that attribution has been done

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Hisham El Sherbini Unit 6 Paper

Justice comes up all the time, except in Unit 6 Workshop, captivatingly called “Power,
Participation & “Justice””. For over 3 days, I have been anxiously waiting for the climax of
the discussion to reach “Justice”. After all, I am sure I am not the only one who sees
“Justice” as the ‘prime condition of humanity’ (Wole Soyinka apparently agrees) and that
‘the first duty of society is [to achieve] justice’ (attributed to Alexander Hamilton).

And when I brought up to some of my colleagues during the workshop that the word
“Justice” has been hardly mentioned over the course of the workshop, they also realized
that, wondered and asked me to bring it up with the Facilitators/Tutors. And when we did,
the dully response that we received was that “we can bring it up on the open space
sessions”. Well, OK, fair enough, but the fact that “Justice” didn’t seem to have taken centre
stage and the fact that the response when bringing it up was unenthusiastic made me
wonder, a lot actually. Not just that, it provoked me and it angered me, how a notion such
as “Justice” that everything revolves around, at least in my humble opinion, seemed to not
have received enough credit and attention in a workshop apparently bearing its name.

And, since we were encouraged to inquiry about what provokes us, I decided that that
would be my inquiry cycle; actually, an iterative inquiry of two cycles!


I considered the “open space” to be the first AR cycle into Justice. The 1st step of this first
iteration that I used involved naming the general objective (Coghlan & Brannick, 2014)
which is: I wanted to understand what it meant to everyone. Do we, really, hold it in high
regard? Does it actually mean enough to us? And how can we assist in achieving it? Being
the ‘first duty of society’ after all!

With regards to the 2nd step in the AR Cycle, the “plan” was to utilize the “open space” to
gauge everyone’s perception of justice

In actioning the plan, which is the 3rd step, I explicitly used Torbert’s Four Types of Speech to
provide a simple and useful framework for analysing the case (Reason & Bradbury, 2008) as

1. Framing: I brought to the table my astonishment in terms how little, if at all, justice was
brought up in a workshop where “Justice” was supposed to be one of the main themes. I

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Hisham El Sherbini Unit 6 Paper

wanted to understand what everyone thought about that and whether I am been too
fussy or overexaggerating.
2. Advocating: I raised with them my concern about numerous communities who have
suffered in the past and are still suffering due to what I perceived as “injustice” or
perhaps “delayed justice”. My view was that uncontrolled, unregulated and
unaccountable use and abuse of “Power” causes injustice and, as it has been commonly
chanted by the masses for decades (Wordsworth, 2014), No Justice, No Peace. To me,
that means that no society can prosper and be at peace when a fraction of that society is
being treated unjustly, continuously, by another fraction. That applies within nations
and across.
3. Illustrating: I shared examples of The Rohingya dubbed as ‘one of the most persecuted
people in the world’ (The Economist, 2015) and Palestinians, both have been persecuted
for decades and the world is still watching. I shared the example of Bosnia where,
although the genocide apparently stopped, one would wonder if justice has been
served. Many more examples were mentioned such as the Apartheid in South Africa,
Prosecuting the Nazis in the Nuremberg trials and beyond and the Rawandan Genocide.
4. Inquiring: I encouraged the participants to challenge my views and introduce theirs.

The outcome of this cycle, the 4th step, was interesting, to say the least. First, it seemed to
me that it was difficult for us to describe or define “Justice”. This is, probably, not very
surprising as, for many things, we, humans, often have many definitions and hence it might
be hard sometimes to reach a common view of what a “thing” is. Having said that, it seemed
to me that fellow colleagues associated “Justice” with “Vengeance”. In other words, it
seemed to me that they were cautious about the notion of “Justice” to avoid getting
dragged into the notion of “Punishment”. There were obviously different views but seeking
reconciliation seemed to be dominant. I argued, well, why was there no “reconciliation”
with the Nazis at the end of the 2nd world war then? And why was “punishment” sought?
Probably, like everything, “it depends”! It all depends on the context, I guess.

So, I wanted to inquire more and expand the inquiry so enacted a second iteration.

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By the time of my second iteration, I found Freire’s (1972) argument to be a bit provoking.
Even though I totally agree and I like to believe that I advocate and even preach the notion
of “humanization”, I struggled to support the idea of putting the enormous load and
responsibility of “liberation” on the shoulders of those extremely oppressed. I kept
wondering, do you expect from people who are continuously being raped, tortured and
slaughtered to ‘develop a critical consciousness’? Do you expect from the Rohingya, whilst
running for their lives and leaving everything behind, to ‘awaken their critical awareness and
thinking process’? Well, in many cases, when they did, and they stood up to the oppressors,
they were branded as “Terrorists” by the whole world; the world who was actually watching
their pleas and not doing anything about it!

To some extent, I actually found that, during the AMSR programme, a couple of forms of
oppression were occurring. Yes, the Educators/Tutors/Facilitators often encourage
reflections and feedback but, first, I personally experienced a few incidents where I felt I
was asked to “shut up”. Another example was during one of the webinars led by Gill where
one of the members of my Webinar group literally said: “interesting that I didn't question
the whole "so what" like Hisham even though thinking it. I felt Gill as the expert and not
questioning what was the article good for”. In addition, the continuous pressure to deliver
papers and meet deadlines, I found that to be, as Freire (1972) calls it, an ‘oppressive
system [where] the teacher retains control and takes on the role of an oppressor’. I thought
it was just me but with every PPA (1st year and 2nd year), probably every paper and, now, the
project, I saw how fellow students felt so stressed and mostly unhappy with what they
produce. Not just that but one of the leading students who always delivered on time and
was ahead of the game is now considering quitting the Project phase and hence the
programme! And when she brought up, another fellow student also shared similar thoughts.
So, obviously, it’s not me. But that’s another story.

I can see, though, that, in certain contexts, Freire’s (1972) radical suggestion by introducing
a ‘new type of education that creates a partnership between the teacher and the student,
empowering the student to enter into a dialogue and begin the process of humanization
through thought and, its correlative, action’ could work. It could possibly work in systems
with slightly less tension and violence than the genocidal ones.

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But, anyhow, I wanted to bring that thought into the inquiry. So, a similar cycle was followed
with the 1st step being the general objective of the inquiry. To me, it was: To further
understand and compare what justice means to people and how, in many cases, we could
possibly achieve justice.

For the 2nd step in the AR Cycle, the “plan” was to engage a sample of around 12 people, all
of which are considered professionals – middle-class in a face-to-face and Skype
conversations about “Justice”.

In actioning the plan, which is the 3rd step, I explicitly used Torbert’s Four Types of Speech in
the same way as with my AMSR colleagues mentioned above. I did the same Framing,
Advocating, Illustrating and Inquiring. One of the main reasons for that is to ensure that my
approach for “data collection” was an extension of the first cycle and that the context
wouldn’t change that much and hence the data collected would be valid to a reasonable
degree. I also ensured that I use the Ladder of Inference (Ross, 1994) and inquire about any
reaction I perceive from them, and I did perceive quite a few reactions indeed! This takes us
now to the outcome of this AR cycle, which is the 4th step. Everyone found the discussion of
“Power, Participation and Justice” to be difficult, ‘sensitive’, complex and ‘huge’ (using their
words). Some found it ‘sensitive’ because ‘sometime, when we have morals and principles
and then you see someone getting away with doing a bad thing, you, kind of, don’t believe
in justice anymore’. Some found it ‘huge’ as it touches everyone’s lives in every part of our

Participants found it hard to define ‘justice’. Some saw it as ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’. And
although “equality” resonates very much with me, what I found to be more elaborative is
that ‘it’s an outcome that works for both sides in a conflict [following] a needs-based
approach’. This also resonates with another participant who said that the two parties should
‘participate in the definition of [what] justice [is to them]’. This is possibly echoing the
participant who said, ‘if there are two people fighting, it’s usually a bit if the two people’
and hence it’s the responsibility of both to reach reconciliation that suit them both. This
could perhaps relate a little to the idea of the oppressed liberating themselves and the
oppressor (Freire, 1972).

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Some of the participants were cautious when discussing “punishment”. They mostly believe
in reconciliation rather than retribution. They believe that retribution does not address the
root cause of the problem. One gave some powerful examples:

• At the end of the 1st World War, punishing Germany by forcing them to huge
reparations, as stipulated by the Versailles Treaty, arguably paved the way for the
rise of the NAZI party and hence the 2nd World War (Suddath, 2010).
• At the end of the 2nd World War, prosecuting the Nazis at the Nuremburg Trials,
condemning many of them to death did not end Nazism. Sadly, Nazis have survived
decades after the end of the 2nd World War and they have been demonstrating
violently in Charlottesville, Virginia in the US just last year, in 2017! (Bills, 2017).
• The so-called “War on Terror/Terrorism” has been going on since October, 2001
(BBC, 2017). And here we are, 16 years later, and we’re having waves and waves of
the so-called “Terrorism” and waves and waves of the so-called “War on Terrorism”.

A lovely quote by the same participant emphasized that ‘You cannot kill an idea by force.
You can only do it with a better idea or by meeting the needs of the people’. This, to me,
means by addressing the root causes of all the above. What was the root cause of the
German offensive in the 1st World War? Have we addressed it? What was the root cause of
the Nazis? Have we addressed it? What is the root cause of Terrorism? Have we addressed

Obviously, people in Power cannot be that stupid. They must know that the root cause of
“Terrorism” is ‘disrespect, lack of justice and poverty’ (attributed to Jodie Evans). But that is
actually the point. They do not want to solve the problem. They find the problem as the
perfect opportunity to impose an agenda of privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social
services, an idea that was illustrated strongly by Klein (2007) which takes us back, yet again,
to Capitalism, that monster that stayed with me from the beginning of the programme up
till now.

And while we are at, we cannot underestimate the “Power” of the Media and the language
used in the Media (Hooks, 1989). She advocates for the formation of a ‘counter-hegemonic
cultural practice to identify the spaces where we begin the process of re-vision’ which is, in
other words, a whole parallel ‘space’ with a different language, a whole different Media

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perhaps which is what I totally agree with. And that’s why I am investing and promoting the
“New Internationalist” (, for example as well as strongly sharing the
new Youtube-based channels that are now counteracting the traditional Mass Media. My
country, Egypt, is a very good example. After the military coup in 2013, all opposition media
was shut down and they had to reappear in the form of Youtube channels from exile and
gradually they are establishing rival news TV such as Al Araby TV in London now.

The same participant brought up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (McLoed, 2017), as shown in
Figure 1, to stress that ‘you cannot expect people at the very bottom who are hardly able to
meet their basic needs or the people at at the top who are so much rewarded to have an
interest in making a change’.
Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

(McLoed, 2017)


Based on the two iterations of the inquiry and based immediately on the discussion above,
my conclusion is that it needs to be people in the middle! This was echoed by many
participants and, definitely, resonated with me. It is our responsibility, we, the educated,
the intellectuals, the professionals, the well-off, middle class to trigger the change, the
power has to come from us. And, if we have to bring Freire’s (1972) suggestion into the mix,
it should be us who need to educate and help the oppressed free themselves, the oppressor
and us all.

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Hisham El Sherbini Unit 6 Paper

In reflection, I can feel my energy strongly and continuously pulling me in that direction and
I will keep following my energy. My next action would then be to expand my support for
alternative media, alternative language, to continue spreading awareness and changing the
language of education especially as ‘school is about creating people who follow orders’!

I have to engage more with Charities that advocate Peace and Justice such as War on Want
(, Justice (, Hope for Justice
( and more. After all, the ‘UK's criminal justice system would fall
apart without charities’ (Dick, 2017)!


BBC. (2017). 2001: US declares war on terror. Retrieved 09 January, 2018 from

Brainyquote. (2017). Justice Quotes. Retrieved 27 December, 2017 from

Bills, K. (2017). White Supremacists Assaulted Dozens of Us in Charlottesville. Almost None

Have Been Punished. Retrieved 09 January, 2018 from

Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. (2014). Doing action research in your own organization. Sage.

Dick, N. (2017). The UK's criminal justice system would fall apart without charities. Retrieved
09 January, 2018 from

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed 1968. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. New York:

Hooks, B. (1989). Choosing the margin as a space of radical openness. Framework: The
Journal of Cinema and Media, (36), 15-23.

Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. Macmillan.

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Hisham El Sherbini Unit 6 Paper

McLoed, S. (2017). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved 09 January, 2018 from

Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2008). Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative inquiry
and practice. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications.

Ross, R. (1994). The ladder of inference. In P. Senge, A. Kleiner, C. Roberts, R. Ross & B. J.
Smith (Eds.), The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning
organization (pp. 242-250). London: Nicholas Brealey.

Suddath, C. (2010). Why Did World War I Just End? Retrieved 09 January, 2018 from,8599,2023140,00.html

The Economist. (2015). The Rohingyas. The most persecuted people on Earth? Retrieved 05
January, 2018 from

Wordsworth, D. (2014). Where did ‘No justice, no peace’ come from? Retrieved 05 January,
2018 from

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