Why Social Justice Workers Need Gratitude

I am convinced that the root of our denial about our own participation in racism and our disempowerment to address the economic and ecological exploitation of the world or whatever our points of struggle is that we have lost touch with whole parts of ourselves, the sad and wounded parts, the parts that have also been hurt by the injustice. We have not been able to cry or lament. Grief opens the door and carries us over the threshold to a place of different wisdom. Then the real work of God begins—the carving and sanding that shape us. We have to find our own answers. When those answers come, they will not fit our perfect ideologies. They will be born of concession and compromise, of trying first one new model and then another. They will instill in us a deep, almost mystical, appreciation of grace. When those answers come, they will reshape our hearts. We will be cloaked in gratitude—specific gratitudes that spring from our particular, life-giving moments. Ultimately this gratitude opens the only path that can call us home to our true and authentic selves.