Sadly, far too often we are stricken by unfortunate uncontrollable events. On the 19th of September 2017, Mexico City suffered one of these events. A 7.1 magnitude trepidatory earthquake affected Mexico City just a week after the 8.1 magnitude oscillatory earthquake had already left its mark. Trepidatory earthquakes are more violent due to the up and down wave movement instead of a sideways movement like the oscillatory earthquake. The forceful earthquake made buildings sway violently, making dozens of them collapse. Hundreds of people died and many went missing while thousands fled to the street in panic and afraid to return home.
I would like to introduce the ‘Sense of Injustice’ and its effects.
Injustice in this case is defined when by the act of people, nature or unequal circumstances an individual’s utility objective function and decision-making environment are gravely and unfavorably affected.
The sense of Injustice occurs when a person or collective group is experiencing any sort of injustice that may occur due to law, ethnicity, preferences, background, internal or external circumstance. This sense of Injustice applies to both the affected parties and what could be described as a third party.
Self-sense of injustice: For an individual or collective group directly being affected, the injustice causes externally imposed constraints on their ability to make decisions and restricts the achievement of their maximum utility. This causes a reaction to fight against the injustice and liberate these constraints.
Third person sense of injustice: For an individual or collective group, not being directly affected by the injustice, when the sense of injustice arises it has powerful effects. There are two views in respect to the causes. However, the result is the same. The first view suggests the sense of injustice causes rational individuals to forgo their current utility to fight the injustice. The second view, suggests equity is embedded in an individual’s decision making and when injustice occurs, some people switch decisions to maximize utility and decide to fight the injustice. This sense is amplified when an event such as an Earthquake may lead to extreme uncertainty.
As reported by Mayor of Mexico City, 44 Buildings had either collapsed or had suffer serious structural damage and over 200 people had died with many more trapped alive. The list of collapsed buildings included an Elementary School called Rebsamen in which 22 children died and at least 30 were trapped.
While all of this occurred two notable things happened. The first was that ordinary people went out to the streets to help in any way possible. The second thing was that amid chaos some people started stealing and assaulting innocent victims. Both reactions can be explained by the sense of injustice.
Most people even though shocked and worried, did not suffer a direct effect lasting more than few moments. Yet this people were the ones that went out to help.
The third person sense of injustice led them to fight this external circumstance and unite to ensure the wellbeing of all the affected individuals. This was not only inside of Mexico City. Firefighters, police and volunteers from across the country travel to Mexico City to make a difference. If it was solidarity or strong embeddedness of equity and justice in their utility function ins unknown. However, it was clear many people deviated from their ordinary rational choices and self-preservation. This is exemplified by the “Topos”, which are people who clear rubble and crawl inside collapsed buildings at the risk of their life to rescue others.
Despite some negative outcomes that occurred on the 19th of September and the days following, the collective force that united for the benefit and wellbeing of others outnumbered the bad as shown in Mexico. People united to rescue the children of the Rebsamen elementary school, trapped citizens and countless others. Efforts included providing health assistance to the injured, the rescued and to the people who lost their homes. This is event show us that even when people may be seen self-interest individuals, as long as the sense of injustice exist or arises, people will unite for the wellbeing of society.