Take Action: Special Online Feature

“How Should I Choose My Commitments to Causes?” It is impossible for any one person to commit to taking action on every meaningful issue. ’DEIS Impact alone features many social justice related events in a week. So how does an interested individual decide where, whom and how to help? Leah Igdalsky ’14 considers this question in a special “Ethical Inquiry”.

Action Under Uncertainty

“You have to act to make an impact,” said former 'DEIS Impacter Julia Sirota '18. What happens, however, when we see a clear gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be, but cannot decide on the best course of action to fix injustice? What if we want to change a situation, but don’t know how?

It can be easy to submit to inaction. Many people dismiss their responses to problems as not good enough or too little to change anything. Paralyzed by trying to find the "right" solution among many possible answers; uncertainty and indecision can lead to inaction.

Paradoxically, our pursuit of the perfect answer can prevent us from implementing any solution at all. In an interview with the “Huffington Post,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza said, “Non-participation is a viable strategy in some contexts – but… [w]e need to build a different and viable alternative…. Non-participation doesn’t allow us to do that. It just creates more room for the forces that we don’t want to win, to win."

Although it may seem harmless, inaction is not a neutral act. The late Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winning author and Holocaust survivor, said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

All too often, we choose silence.

The purpose of 'DEIS Impact is to inform, to empower and to evoke thoughtful responses to social injustices. The diversity of approaches displayed in this annual festival of social justice reminds us that there can be multiple effective ways to address a single problem. We can act consciously to resolve the crises that plague us, through individual and collective actions, informed by scholarship and practice.

Writer Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

During this annual festival of social justice, we invite you to “live the questions:” ­listen to each other’s thoughts and experiences, share your own, let critical thinking inform activism, and collaborate with others to achieve a more just world.

Join us.