Change is costly.
It’s relatively easy to name the many problems impacting marginalized people in the United States and around the globe.
It’s relatively easy to call out wrongdoers and criticize corrupt institutions by sharing a meme or posting a righteous rant on Twitter (both are worthy forms of protest, so no shade).
And it’s easy, for some, to pick their singular fight despite the reality of the many injustices—whether white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, over-policing, antagonism aimed at queer and trans people, or much else—that are committed under our watch in this country. Under the leadership of a “president” (*insert all the side eye emojis*) whose actions, silences, tweets, and policies bolster all of the above.
Imagining and rebuilding a world that is more just and loving than it is, however, requires the work of change agents who possess fighting power. People willing to put their lives and reputations on the line. Doers who might lose friends, protections, comforts, and resources while advocating for collective gains. Activists who may lead marches against police violence or rape culture only to leave without a place to lay their heads.
Imagining and rebuilding a world that is more just and loving than it is, however, requires the work of change agents who possess fighting power.
Organizers who are fighting for you, for us, for those who have been killed by police, harassed by ICE personnel because they are from countries 45 has called “sh*tholes,” people who love queerly, trans* folks, the poor, and women at risk of being sexually assaulted. The disabled, the incarcerated, the indigenous, fight out of necessity and because of their faith in the possibility of a less sh*tty, more equitable world. But some of those organizers, whom the late theologian Henri Nouwen called “wounded healers,” fight for justice even if they sometimes are embattled by the same forces they war against.
Some people who fight for justice are fighting because they lost someone they loved because of, say, police violence. In a liberated world, justice would see a timeline where their loved one is still alive, rather than one where the weighty work of grieving and fighting to prevent someone else’s loved one from being killed is standard. Some people who fight for justice are fighting while managing mental health challenges or the overwhelming emotional pain of constant loss that can be exacerbated by the very conditions that exist. In a more just and loving world, those freedom fighters could care for themselves, and be cared for by others, and not overwhelmed by work that should not have to happen.
Activists, organizers, advocates, justice workers, freedom fighters, and movement builders are human beings who are brave, but they are breakable, too. Know this. Some of them live to see the changes they fight to bring about, but some don’t. They fight to live. And they fight for us—whether they receive our gratitude or not.
CASSIUS is focusing on justice, as vast and bold as it can be imagined, in our latest digital conversation. We set out to discover what it will take to build a New America, but we learned that transformative justice work can bring about losses in the lives of those who struggle so that the dispossessed might gain more freedom, more rights, more resources, more life.
But all is not lost. We’ve talked to a range of justice workers who have reminded us that the struggle does not have to lack joy and verve and smiles and love and pleasure and lit a*s moments and all that makes life worth living. We welcome you to check out their testimonies above and hope you are encouraged by them.
The world needs more people who can dream and build better futures. And it needs them well, supported, loved, smiling, and alive.