posted on March 25, 2020
By Hannah Reasoner
Anyone who works in human rights and social justice areas tries their best to block out that voice of hopelessness. That voice in the back of all of our heads that says:
Nothing you do matters
You can't possibly make a difference
You are so much smaller than the unjust systems that control society and government
It's always been this way
Stay in your lane
Don't fight the status quo...
So why do we keep working towards the seemingly unachievable goal of justice and equality? I've met people who don’t understand why I would ever want to leave the comforts of home and dedicate so much time and effort to work in social justice and reconciling ministries. I've met others who didn't see the point in dedicating so much work to something that will never make you rich. I’ve talked to people who don’t understand why I would spend so much time on issues that don’t affect me directly or want to improve the lives of people I don’t even know.
The thing is, once you start making personal connections, hearing people's stories, and seeing how their lives are impacted by your seemingly small actions, your view of the world begins to change. Maybe I can’t take down the patriarchy, but I can help a young girl speak up and use her voice. Maybe I can’t end all homophobia, but I can support churches that welcome and value everyone that walks in the door. Maybe I can’t undo centuries of discrimination, but I can lift up the voices of marginalized groups and listen to their struggles.
The people that benefit most from unjust systems of oppression thrive off of hopelessness. If we believe that nothing we do will make a difference, we are more likely to simply do nothing and let the cycle continue.
Hope is small. It can be felt in the tiniest moments of seeing change and possibility. Hope is just one step forward even if we don’t know if or when we’ll make it to the final destination. Hope is courage. Hope is faith.
Dear God, when we feel like we’re too small to make a difference, shine a light on the hope around us. Light the path to take even seemingly small steps forward and remind us that on that path we will never walk alone. Amen.
Hannah Reasoner is a lifelong member of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church in New York, New York. She recently served as a Global Mission Fellow in Colombia working with an ecumenical human rights organization to promote gender equality through arts and media. She currently works in Communications with St. Paul & St. Andrew as well as New York Justice For Our Neighbors. St. Paul & St. Andrew UMC is a Justice Seeking Community.