A Perspective on Social Justice Changed through Service

The following is a reflection written by Jack, a Repair the World New York Teen Service Corps Member.

What is social justice? On paper, it means to enact justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. In reality, social justice is significantly more complex than that.

The growing popularity of social media has affected our lives drastically, but in my opinion, it has affected our perception of social justice the most. Due to social media, the term “social justice” has been politicized, and the true message behind social justice: to serve one’s community, has been clouded. Before my involvement with Repair the World, my perception of social justice and how it relates to service was not the most positive, since 99% of my knowledge came from social media. 

Over the last few months as a Teen Service Corps Member in New York, my views have significantly changed. Participating in activities like volunteering at Bushwick City Farm and phone banking with Hunger Free America, I have realized that service requires personal sacrifice. Clicking a few buttons on my phone to post an infographic was certainly not as fulfilling as turning compost for two hours by myself at the farm, knowing I was helping others in my community. For one of the first times in my life I felt that I was truly helping others by doing service.

A phrase I’m sure many people here are familiar with is: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”

Finishing the work requires direct action, volunteering, together as a community. That is the lesson I’ve learned from my time with Repair the World.