The Work of Justice Begins with...

By Nola Pastor

It recently occurred to me that my relationship with social justice work is deeply tied to a near, ever-present sense of dissatisfaction. While I often find myself backing up my activism and convictions with the belief that everyone has the right to live comfortably and well, it is that stubborn feeling of discomfort that drives most of my activism and work.

To me, the inability to feel settled with what is and how I am, and the constant feeling that there is more to do and to be, resonates with the hard and painful work of going against the grain — of working for social change. Recognizing what feels wrong or lacking in the world, and even within ourselves and our efforts to change things, can put us in the path of wonder and grace.

In coming up against things we do not know, like, nor can fully change, there is always that opportunity to learn, forgive, build relationships, and to discover our role and purpose in movements that push for the kinds of change we want to see. The margins of ourselves, our actions and principles and the imperfect way these overlap with other people and larger experiences is a place of both humility and strength. 

So for all the moments when I don’t know how to reconcile paperwork with presence, self with other, loss with light and struggle with ease, I hope this very vertigo can be a reminder that at the very least, discontent staves off complacency. The staircase neither begins nor ends with me.

Together, we can build a stronger movement for worker justice.

Nola's post is part of our summer series "Reflections from the Field." Nola is interning at Madison Workers' Rights Center this summer as part of IWJ's Summer Internship program.