I remember learning once that there are 3 main avenues for acquiring information about the world: hands-on experience, discourse with or from other people (i.e., dialogue or information from the media, respectively) and reading. Over the course of my journey towards being a better person and helping others, I have been inspired through my interactions with other socially-minded human beings and have learned a lot from various personal experiences. However, I have hardly made a dent in the vast amount of research and literature that exists on the topic. The literature can be overwhelming at times and also difficult to sift through, especially since it’s non-fiction, but nevertheless, I feel that it is important for me to read books on human rights issues in order to become more aware and consequentially act in ways that are more socially responsible.
A few months ago, I decided to start a social justice book club in order to help me achieve my aforementioned goal. Given that I enjoy social gatherings and tend to be more disciplined when I am accountable to others, I figured that organizing and leading a book group would be a good approach. I ran my first meeting last month and it was a great success. The greatest benefit was that I not only learned a great deal from the book, but I had the opportunity to explore the issues raised in the book and challenge my own understandings through dialogue–not to mention it was also a fun time. Furthermore, I talked about the book to other friends who were not at the meeting, who then decided to pick up the book and read it for themselves (a few have also decided to now join the group). It was a win-win situation on many levels.
The more I read and learn, the more I realize how complex the world is and how little I know. However, the awareness gained from learning more about the complex operations of our world, opens my eyes to the possibilities for helping to make the world a better place…and this is utterly empowering.