The Hebrew term mishpat, meaning “justice”, occurs more than two hundred times in the Old Testament. Throughout scriptures, its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably; to have the same mishpat [rule of law-human right] for the foreigner as the native, regardless of race or social status. Unfortunately, as highlighted for many during recent weeks, we live in a world short on equal rights and justice for all.
If you’re anything like me, the ongoing events of 2020 have been challenging, disheartening, and at times have felt overwhelming. To help combat these feelings and to maintain mental health, the following is a short list of suggestions to support individuals’ quest for justice, for others and for self.
1. Educate Yourself. You may start by asking tough questions and seeking honest answers within yourself. Do you recognize or deny that problems exist, and if so, which problems? Do you avoid the hard questions, always striving for comfort or are you vulnerable about your knowledge gaps and own biases? Do you allow your own mistakes or the mistakes of others to deter you from seeking truth or self-improvement? Are you able and willing to genuinely listen to others who look, think, or act differently from you?
Did you just experience any emotion or reaction after reading these initial questions, and if so, what do you think is causing you to feel this way? There is a plethora of books, movies, podcasts, interviews, virtual book clubs and classes to join or comb through if interested in educating yourself further on seeking justice. I encourage you to check these resources out; by doing so, you not only empower yourself, but you can empower others too! (Netflix, Amazon, and Apple TV are currently allowing some free movie rentals relating to social injustice and racism).
2. Listen to Others. Actively listen to others with open ears, mind, and heart with an understanding that the speaker has dignity and is fully deserving of love and compassion. Caution against growing deaf to others painful experiences and take care to not place your own status over others’ lived experiences. While listening, how might you hold space for curiosity in a way that honors others’ stories?
3. Express Yourself. Use your voice to represent yourself through journaling practices, social media platforms, protest, and conversations with others. Ask yourself, do you speak out when you witness injustice at work or educate peers on how injustices impact your profession? Allowing yourself the opportunity to have uncomfortable yet respectful conversations is a gift to yourself and to others as is representing yourself through honoring your story.
4. Donate and Serve. One of the reasons why I love JFS Orlando is because of the many volunteers who sacrifice their resources, including their time, to serve others, thus seeking justice. Ask yourself, what are you most passionate about and get creative. Identify organizations that seek to do justice in your same area of passion and get involved through acts of service.
5. Vote and Advocate. You’ve heard it before—register to vote, research each candidate, and go to the polls. Write to your local congress, sign a petition, advocate for policy change, support others.
6. Teach Justice. Early childhood development professionals agree that there is no age too young to begin teaching about justice through age appropriate lessons. Children’s literature has come a long way in the area of diversity with books and television shows that address the issues of justice, with an emphasis on kind and fair treatment for all.
7. Meditate and Pray. Mental health is impacted by injustice. Supporting justice is not risk free. You cannot choose both justice and the status quo. Maybe you have been feeling disconnected or lonely, experienced a decrease in trust with increased worry, panic, sadness or anger, find yourself second guessing things you have seen or heard, or maybe felt triggered by present or generational trauma. Injustice can decrease one’s hope in society, the government, and the future. Prioritize time alone to lean into your feelings through reflection, tending to your emotional responses and nervous system, while remembering that it is normal to feel the impact of injustice.
Limit your time on social media and time consuming the news. This does not mean that you choose to be ignorant of current events but instead to be mindful of how much time and content you allow to pass through your eyes and ears and into your mind and heart each day. You may find the practice of mindfulness, meditation, or prayer to be one of the best ways to seek justice for yourself and others.
May we allow the quest for justice to permeate our personal lives through influencing how we spend money, how we conduct our careers, through the way we choose to live in our neighborhoods and who we seek as friends. Continually questioning, how do we conduct ourselves, in our personal and professional lives or how does that reflect our beliefs and values? Justice begins within our personal, internal experience as we learn to represent and honor our own story. It then reaches outward as we become curious, listen and honor the stories of others.
“To bring about justice, we must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”
—Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist
Justice be with you.
Looking for more wellness help? JFS Orlando’s licensed counselors are specialized in various areas and are here to support you. Telehealth counseling appointments now available! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment today!
As someone who has embarked on her own counseling experiences, both in times of peace and chaos, Jessica understands the internal battle when beginning therapy. Aware of the courage it takes to start the process, she strives to provide a safe place where the counseling journey can evolve at the pace that feels natural for you.
Jessica received her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Central Florida and holds certification from Texas Christian University in Trust-Based Relational Intervention. As a bilingual (English/Spanish) therapist, Jessica embraces several modalities towards healing the whole person which include psychoeducation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and client centered, solution focused approaches, with an emphasis on play and art therapy.