5 steps to turn concerns into action (and not just talk about it!)
At some point in your life you’ve probably been confronted with injustice and felt a surge of compassion for a vulnerable group, individual or cause. Perhaps you were the one facing injustice. You may have thought, “I must do something, but what? And how?”
Guided by faith and compassion, Church communities are unique in their ability to engage groups of people to act for the common good and speak truth to injustice. As the Moderator, Myung-Hwa Park said, “none of these social justice issues can be separated from our own well-being and our faith.”
But often the demands of daily life intrude and the impulse quickly fades.
So how do we begin to power this impulse into action?
Here are five ways you can start to act justly on worthy causes:
Often we feel that we don’t know enough about an issue to get involved. Do some research! Check out websites of groups taking action. Sign up to a newsletter. Find out why this issue matters, and who is affected. And think, what can I do about it?
Find an ally
Never underestimate power in numbers! It’s harder to act on our own, so find someone else who cares about the issue. Talk to friends, colleagues and people at church. Talk about why the issue concerns you and build a relationship based on your common interest in justice.
Organise, organise, organise!
Shout out to your congregation to find out who is passionate about the same issue. If your congregation already has a Social Justice Committee or group, suggest your idea and join their meetings. If not, consider starting a group of your own! You might want to ask people to take action by meeting with or local politicians, writing letters to editors of local newspapers, signing petitions or holding a fundraiser. Develop a plan of action with goals and a timeline, and designate tasks to make sure people stay on track.
Share your concern and make it relevant
One way to get engaged in an issue is to present it to others. So volunteer to lead a discussion, run a bible study on the topic, have a film night or even lead prayers on the issue in church. This sharpens your sense of why this matters and may identify potential allies. Remember, people are inspired by causes that strike a personal chord with them. By framing the issue around how it will affect their lives or by stirring them emotionally, you are more likely to get people on board.
Join existing groups and events
It can be hard to generate action from scratch. So link with a group or campaign that is already active. Visit their websites and see if their approach matches your values and concerns, and find out how you can get involved. Start with easiest things first- attending an event is an easy way to get informed and get connected to others who are concerned about the issue. If you can find a friend to go with you, all the better.
The Social Justice Forum of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT is currently campaigning to achieve justice for asylum seekers and are advocating for affordable housing in NSW. To find out more and get involved, you can sign up for the Social Justice Forum e-news and follow them on Facebook.
Jon O’Brien and Kate Sharkey from the Social Justice Forum