“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” — Brené Brown
Some calendars mark more than full moons, holidays and time off from work. They mark special days that will hopefully inspire us to stop and reflect on what we can each do to make the world a better place. If you are lucky enough to own one of these calendars, you will know that February 20 is World Day of Social Justice. It is a day that asks us all to do our part to bring a dividing world closer together. It is a day that asks us to work towards peace.
I say call the boss and take the day off. It should be a holiday — a celebration of peace. Just a joke!
Now, I understand that social justice is one of those phrases that’s hard to describe, at least without using many other words — fairness, open-mindedness, level playing field, equality, tolerance. The United Nations calls social justice “the underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.” That’s a beautiful definition.
The million-dollar questions is: how do we do this? How do we make social justice a reality?
As a society, we advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or disability. For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of their global mission to promote human dignity. Along with many other organizations, they present plans for greater social justice by tackling issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, human rights, and unemployment.
And while I am filled with gratitude that there are so many wonderful organizations working tirelessly for this cause, the truth is this: the challenge belongs to all of us. Social justice is not just a fight for the United Nations, or our politicians, or the wealthy, or our neighbors. The fight belongs to every one of us. And, of course, it’s not a fight at all. It’s more of a surrender. A surrender to love.
Love is the only way we’ll bring social justice to our planet — and it will arrive in the only way that is possible — through one heart at a time. Mine. Yours. All of us.
Ultimately, social injustice is about the gap between what is fair and what is unjust, between division and unity, between love and hate, between who we are and who we want to be.
It is our job as citizens of the planet to fill this gap with our best self, the part of us that loves and accepts all people.
Although there is a catch to this solution, we cannot accept others unless we accept ourselves first.
Loving ourselves sounds easy, and it is. But we must do the work, which means not getting in our own way by overthinking. And we do a lot of thinking. In fact, we each think over 75,000 thoughts each day. And we have to ask ourselves how many of those thoughts do we spend judging ourselves — we’re not smart enough; we’re not witty enough, rich enough, young enough, pretty enough, successful enough, good enough. If we let our thoughts run wild, we will eventually start to believe anything, even our own negative and faulty thinking.
To accept ourselves, we must recognize that these negative thoughts are not real. They are old memories. We must erase these memories in our subconscious mind and learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves. To be forgiving. Patient. Vulnerable. Honest. As the Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.”
This is why I say Ho’oponopono, the ancient Hawaiian art of problem solving, can help bring peace to the Earth. I have been practicing and teaching Ho’oonopono for over 20 years. I have come to realize that when you let go, you give permission to a more intelligent mind (I call it God) to transmute and correct. And whatever gets erased from you, gets erased from everybody. When you change, everything changes..
And if we can love and accept ourselves, we will be able to do it with others. And once we can love and accept others, the gap between who we are and who we want to be will slowly collapse. The world will grow closer, and as it becomes closer, we will see that we are more alike than different. We will see that we are all part of the same cosmic family.
When we get to this moment, we won’t have to fight for social justice anymore.
It will already be here.