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Social justice is a broad term, describing the concept of fair relations between individuals and the world around them. In most societies around the globe, imbalances in power and opportunity have prevailed throughout the centuries. Some groups, such as minorities, women, the poor, the disabled, and the incarcerated have often had less access to certain opportunities and resources. Social justice movements tend to focus on eliminating these barriers, seeking to improve social mobility and access to public resources. Creating social and economic “safety nets” for those in need is often a point of focus as well.
Though social and also environmental justice are noble concepts, making strides towards having a more equitable world requires effort. Supporting a social justice movement, however, isn’t as difficult as it seems! Here are a few easy ways you can get started.
Before spreading the word about injustice, it is important to make sure that you’re well-informed regarding the subject at hand. Spreading misinformation based on misleading social media posts, for instance, can do more harm than good. Instead, try to seek out trustworthy resources, and cross-reference your findings with other sources. If you’re interested in supporting a particular movement or a specific organization, seek out information on the group’s official website, rather than acquiring information second-hand. By educating yourself, you can become a better and more powerful activist.
Change Your Own Behavior
Critiquing our own behavior can be a challenging and sometimes painful process. Most of us have deep-rooted beliefs and habits that may be difficult to unlearn. Dig deep and evaluate your own behavior. Do you hold certain prejudices against individuals who have been incarcerated? Do you use words or language that could be perceived as slurs by others? Perhaps you consider yourself environmentally-conscious, but continue to generate a significant amount of household waste. Seeing our own biases can be particularly difficult. Consider talking to a trusted and socially-aware friend to see if they’ve ever perceived your language or behavior as problematic. Consult online lists and resources, too. Though none of us are perfect, all of us can work to improve the ways in which we speak and act.
Listen & Speak
Before spreading the word about your cause, be sure to take the time to listen to those around you. If you known individuals who have suffered particular injustices, listen to their stories. When discussing your cause with others, be sure to listen, too. Even if you disagree with someone, remaining calm, rational, and non-aggressive in your approach can help you both reach a better understanding of one another’s perspectives. Once you’ve taken the time to hear others, start spreading the word yourself! Speak with those closest to you. Spread positive, empowering information online, or start a discussion with your friends or work colleagues. Speaking out is one of the simplest and most effective ways to change minds, ultimately creating a more socially-conscious world.
Make Connections Within Your Community
Though the voice of a single individual can be powerful, this power is multiplied when groups of people use their collective energies to promote justice. Find a club, group, or organization in your community that promotes the cause or causes you’re most committed to. If no such group exists, start one of your own! Reach out online or in person to find others who are equally committed to your cause. By doing so, you can spread your message more effectively.
Put Pen to Paper
Though most of us want to make the world a better place, not all of us are comfortable confronting others or engaging in public protests. One can, however, make a difference in quieter ways as well. Look up pledges, for instance, that you can sign. Adding your name to a list may not seem like a large gesture, but doing so can ultimately lead to major changes. Another great way of instigating change is contacting politicians or others who are in positions of power. A well-written letter has the potential to open eyes, possibly leading to institutional changes in the future.
Participate in a Rally or Protest
There will always be power in numbers. Rallies and protests remain some of the best ways of raising awareness of social injustices. By being vocal and visible, those who participate in public protests often gain the attention of individuals as well as the media, truly bringing attention to social injustices. If you’re comfortable taking things a step further, consider making posters and printing out information of your own to share with others. If given the opportunity, consider speaking publicly about your cause, too. By doing so, your message will reach many ears, possibly changing the minds of others.
Volunteer Your Time
Regardless of the cause you’re most committed to, there’s a high chance that you can volunteer in a way that will directly aid your cause, helping those in need. If you’re committed to helping disadvantaged women, consider donating your time to a local women’s shelter. If you care about animals, look for enviromental organizations that rescue animals and provide healthcare for them. Directly helping those who suffer from social injustices will aid others while opening your eyes, allowing you to become a better ally for your cause.
Social movements are often supported by non-profit organizations. In addition to volunteering your time, consider donating to these organizations so that they can continue their noble work. Donations may allow these organizations to finance much needed projects while spread the word through training, advertisements, and more. Do your research and find a trustworthy organization. Remember, even small donations can make a big difference.
When we think of fighting for justice, most of us tend to picture loud, boisterous activists, marching, waving banners and shouting powerful messages. It’s important to remember that you, too, can fight for a more equitable world, even if you prefer remaining in the background. Donate your time, write letters to those in power, or volunteer with an organization in your community. By taking these steps, and spreading your message to those around you, your efforts can change the world.
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