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How to Make 2021 A Year for Social Justice
January 21, 2021

Twenty-one days into a new year, and it already feels like we’ve been through a lot. There is hope for an end to the pandemic in sight, though it will still be a long while before we’re completely out of those woods. And yet the world keeps spinning. The social justice concerns we had before the pandemic – concerns like trafficking – still continue to happen. The hard work of trying to respond to them as well as bring an end to them marches on.

Usually at this point in the new year, we’d share a list of specific actions to take to further social justice. If 2020 taught us anything, though, it’s to expect the unexpected. There are a lot of unknowns about how 2021 will unfold. For many of us who are under lockdowns and other polices that continually shift with current infection rates, it’s hard to plan for more than a few weeks out. Perhaps instead of making a list of specific commitments, we can focus on a general set of principles and attitudes as we move forward in 2021.

Here are some suggestions:

Roll with Uncertainty

It’s probably going to take a while to get some stability under our feet – or perhaps more accurately, we will encounter a back and forth between periods of stability and periods of shift – and maybe the challenge will be to stay committed and maintain equanimity through it. We can stay grounded by continually asking “What is this moment asking of me right now?” Some moments call on us to act, some to reflect, some to watch and observe, some to ask questions, and some to give answers. Bringing acceptance of uncertainty and flexibility to our response can help us ride through it. 

Pick Goals that Can Be Met in a Variety of Ways

If you’re having trouble seeing what your schedule is going to look like in the coming weeks and months, and it’s unclear what you can commit to, perhaps it’s worth shifting your goals to something broader, so that  you can still meet it in different ways. For example, if your goal is to volunteer time with a favorite organization, but you’re unsure how much time you can commit to because it’s unclear how many in-person opportunities are available, or because distance learning with your kids places more demands on your time, sketch out other ways you can still support them and their mission. Are there tasks that can be done online? Can you help with social media? Can you divert energy to doing more research about the issue so you can bring more knowledge and expertise to the work that you are able to do? Can you help spread the word about your favorite organization to others?

Stay Curious, Stay Open

It’s easy to become entrenched in one way of seeing or doing things. But issues don’t remain static. Our collective understanding of how the world works shifts and changes over time, sometimes even quite dramatically, as new voices are heard and new information comes to light. In periods of great shift and change, it’s important to bring an open mindset. Issue areas like child trafficking bring together an incredibly diverse group of people with a wide range of perspectives, ideologies, and concerns. We can have confidence in our shared commitment to protecting vulnerable children, while remaining curious and open to what new things we might learn or consider from listening to each other. In a few weeks, we’ll be sharing insights from our Thailand Director, Veerawit Tianchainan, about what it’s like serving as a bridge between perspectives at the local level versus the provincial, national, regional, or even international levels in anti-trafficking. Each perspective has an important role to play, and we’re excited to share with you what we’re able to accomplish by moving between the different perspectives and his ideas on balancing the different view points – so stay tuned for that!

Compassion Up, Ego Down

On a recent podcast episode of Ten Percent Happier, Karamo shared his personal mantra “Compassion up, ego down” and it seems like a really good in-road to having those difficult, but necessary conversations. If you’re in a situation where it feels necessary to dial down the temperature, maybe this mantra can help. 

Prioritize Self Care

Many of us are feeling absolutely exhausted, and as the adage goes, one can’t pour from an empty cup. Prioritizing self care can mean ensuring you take time to properly rest, relax, and recharge in the ways that are effective for you to do that. Or it can mean deeper things like learning to set proper boundaries, and lovingly though firmly requiring others to respect those boundaries. Social justice requires deeper commitments to each other and also deeper commitments to ourselves. Take care of your needs so that you have the energy to keep doing the work. Forward movement is still forward movement, no matter how fast or slow.

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