Light the way into the future...
The holidays are behind us and the new year is before us. Life begins to resume a sense of post-holiday normalcy and, at the same time, 2017 brings significant uncertainty for many. As we resolve to live a healthier lifestyle and "be a better person" in 2017, consider the ways in which making a personal commitment to social justice can be part of your life and lifestyle resolutions.
There are many things each one of us can do in our everyday lives to work for social justice:
- Become better informed. Begin by not assuming you already know all there is to know on the topic. Choose an issue that you do not fully understand or accept, and immerse yourself in learning about it. What or who do you need to learn more about?
- Listen, listen, listen. So often we are quick to speak and to react. Many times an issue is emotional because it is also personal. Listen for the experience and the emotion. Social justice is far more than intellectual banter.
- Tell your story. The problem with "issues" is that we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that virtually all issues are connected to LIFE; the lives of people, animals, planet. To help move from an issues-centered discourse people need to be willing to risk telling their stories. Your voice, your experience can help change or expand the narrative!
- Pay attention to language. The words and terms we choose are as important as the topics we care enough about to discuss. Where might your language (verbal and non-verbal) be laced with -isms (racism, sexism, ageism, absolutism, anthropocentrism...you get the idea!). Hold yourself in check by asking someone you trust to also help hold you in check.
- Take action. Concrete action steps are key and many are quite do-able if we remember we do not have to do it all. You can: support businesses that do not violate human rights and that promote social justice; sign petitions; share your expertise by serving on the board of a justice-centered non-profit; share your skills by volunteering with local religious organizations, non-profits, or community organizations; email your local legislator.
- Cross a line. What is the physical or psychological barrier you need to cross to help conquer your fears, prejudices, ignorance? It is okay to begin small, but one must begin! Expand your comfort zone to include the people and places that you tend to keep at arm's length.
- Exercise presence. Physical presence at demonstrations or rallies is important, but it is not for everyone. Meaningful presence on social media is the most accessible way to exercise presence and is equally significant. From time to time consider sharing informative articles or stories that help to promote justice.
- Cultivate a disposition of love and compassion. Let love and compassion guide your choices, actions and positions. Practice silence, meditation and personal reflection so that you your life itself is the very testimony to the importance of respect for all humanity and care of our planet.
Edmund Burke said, Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. Make no mistake; make this the year you do a little or a little more to light the way to a future of justice, peace and hope.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL OF US AT THE STUART CENTER!