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Sr. Helen Prejean, a leading activist against the death penalty, tweeted some thoughts on activism yesterday:
- We all need to get involved in our communities and act for justice. Here are some thoughts and ideas on getting started with activism:
- Activism is like riding a wave in a tiny boat. You can feel this immense power under you. You know you’ve connected to something powerful.
- Be ready. Be poised. You’ve got to have depth and you’ve got to be spiritually grounded or you won’t last long in this endeavor.
- You’re going to be engaged with people who are suffering terribly, and the forces arrayed against them will feel unassailable.
- Often enough, the outcome is going to break your heart. The suffering and defeat gets inside you and gnaws at you as if it were your own.
- It is this experience of compassion in you that will jolt you out of your small ego-absorbed self and stir your heart to try and try again.
- We don’t have to look far to find an arena for human rights. Just look at what’s happening on the streets in #Charlottesville.
- What’s important is that when we wake up to an injustice, we must immediately act. Take a concrete step right away, no matter how small.
- Not to respond to injustice immediately is to risk paralyzing ourselves. Action is a freeing thing.
- Find your passion, find the injustice that offends your moral sensibilities to the core, and then take action right away.
- Write a letter. Join a protest. Contact your elected officials. Most importantly, make a personal connection with people who are suffering.
- My first concrete action after I woke up to injustice was to move into the St. Thomas housing project in New Orleans with some other nuns.
- My African American neighbors became my teachers about the “other America” that they experienced. Thank God they were so patient with me!
- I went to the emergency room with Black mothers whose children were sick. We had to wait up to ten hours to see a resident doctor.
- My ministry in St. Thomas took me to the killing chamber at Angola Prison where I witnessed a man’s execution in the electric chair.
- And here I am, 30+ years later, still working to end the death penalty. I’ve witnessed five other executions since that first one.
- Martin Luther King said it best: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
- I offer you my life experience in hopes that it might help illuminate your path as we press onward together in this struggle for justice.