5 Ways You Can Participate in Social Change

Find out five ways we can all participate in social change.

The days blur together as this pandemic ebbs and flows. In my own experience of family life, not much changes — our kids have a set routine and we rarely explore beyond our own neighborhood. And yet, the steady rhythm of our lives stands in stark contrast to the profound ways our society is changing right now.

When we turn on the news, scroll through Twitter, or even drive through the city, we see persistent demands for sustained change. But how do we dismantle systemic racism? How do we stand with the forgotten and ignored? How do we help people find new jobs — or keep working at their old ones safely? How do we ensure everyone has a roof over their heads, food on their tables? And how — what — do we rebuild back into our lives in the wake of this global pandemic? Can we do it in a way that protects our environment?

All these questions — it can be overwhelming. It can be tempting to turn back to the humdrum routine of our seemingly change-less lives, throwing up our hands in frustration.

But let’s not do that. Let’s lean into the change. Below, I’ve outlined five ways you can participate in this moment of social change — and why these actions matter.

1. Prioritize the most vulnerable

A simple truth guides the way people of faith approach injustice: We are called to protect — and prioritize — the most vulnerable. Why? Because, as God’s children, we know that we all belong to one another.

That’s why we can boldly proclaim that Black lives matter — Black folks are most vulnerable to police brutality and systemic racism. That’s why we refuse to discard the elderly in a false choice between reopening the economy and protecting our grandparents.

Take action:

The Ignatian Solidarity Network runs a series of ongoing campaigns that promote the dignity of all people, providing specific resources for faith-based communities to stand up to systemic racism and other forms of injustice.

Catholic Charities USA advocates on behalf of some of the most vulnerable communities within our country.

2. Protect the dignity of work & rights of workers

Too often during these past several months, we’ve heard stories of workers being forced to return to their places of employment that show little regard for their well-being. Men and women are forced to choose between unsafe working conditions and feeding their families. They eke out a meager, dangerous living while the owners at the top remain safe — and wealthy.

Take action:

SojoAction — the advocacy arm of the ecumenical Sojourners magazine — outlines concrete policy changes to promote economic justice, particularly as we rebuild the economy in the months ahead.

A network of Jesuit institutions have launched the Solidarity Across Borders initiative, which shines a light on the often forgotten plight of undocumented workers and provides ways to support them.   

3. Feed the hungry

Any shock to a society hurts the most vulnerable communities the most. Ensuring reliable access to nutritious food is essential to helping these vulnerable communities ultimately build a more sustainable way of life.

Christians have always offered food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty — it’s an urgent human need, so it is a fundamental way we can love someone who is in need. Caring for someone in this way is also one of the most simple and straightforward commands Jesus gave us

Take action:

Bread for the World empowers you to advocate for food security in the United States.

Catholic Relief Services enables you to advocate for food security around the world.

4. Shelter those without homes

Long before the world was shuttered by a global pandemic, we were already facing one of the worst refugee crises in living memory. Families are being forced from their homes due to violence and lack of opportunity abroad — and put at increased risk for contracting COVID-19 in refugee camps. On top of that, so many people in our own country struggle to pay rent each month. Many of those families now face the real prospect of homelessness, adding to an already tragic number of people who are struggling to find shelter on the streets of our cities.

Take action:

Raise your voice through Habitat for Humanity and call on our elected officials to provide housing stability for all people living in our country.

Join Jesuit Refugee Service in standing with and supporting refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers around the world.   

5. Care for creation

COVID-19 has reminded us how the entire world is interconnected — how one disaster can impact us all. In many ways, it’s a foreshadowing of the impending climate crisis, a reminder that we need to take action now, together. With so many of us forced to stay home to limit our commutes, COVID-19 has also given us a glimpse of what a world might look like if we consumed less, wasted less, and cared for creation more.

Take action:

The Catholic Climate Covenant invites everyone to participate in the Catholic Climate Project and mobilize faith communities across the United States to respond to the needs of our environment.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement brings together faith actors around the world to care for our common home.

Grotto quote graphic about social change: "5 ways to sustain social change. 1. Prioritize the most vulnerable. 2. Protect the dignity/rights of workers. 3. Feed the hungry. 4. Shelter those without homes. 5. Care for creation."

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