Many people I talk with struggle with what brings them to the fight for equality, safety, and justice for all. This quote from Cornel West appeared on my Facebook newsfeed today, and it made me think that for many of us, we are brought to the table by an intense love.

Some of us can point to a specific experience that forced us to recognize our personal stake in the climate crisis. Marshall Ganz’s Story of Self framework has become a ubiquitous tool for activists to help us develop a “why” for our organizing work. It is intended to inspire action. While recognizing our personal stake in the crisis can be a powerful way to inspire, Cornel West’s quote helped me recognize that it is not the only way. If we do not have a clear moment of awakening that drew us to social justice, our work can be equally inspiring and valid.

It’s important to remember that it’s ok to care, without forcing yourself to explain why you do.

To recognize the humanity in others, and not feel an obligation to describe what brought you to the realization that another human being was of equivalent importance to yourself.

Capitalism as a structure teaches the love out of us – it teaches us that our priority should be self-interest, and that self-interest will create a perfectly functioning society. Our movement often emphasizes stories, and for some people that opportunity taps something incredibly powerful. For others of us, our deep capacity for love is equally motivating.

I want to recognize that in addition to motivation from a deep capacity for love, our colleagues from impacted communities may be driven by a need to fight for their survival, to maintain healthy communities in light of corporate attacks, or to ensure protection from other immediate impacts.

Regardless of our background, love is a powerful inspiration, motivator, and force for justice.

Cross-posted from Aly’s personal blog

About Aly Johnson-Kurts

Aly serves as the Traditional Media Coordinator for the SustainUS COP21 delegation, and studies Economics and Environmental Policy at Smith College. Aly joins SustainUS with a sense of connection to the land from her father, an avid outdoorsman, and a sense of justice from her mother, an anti-racism / gender equity trainer. She finds true passion at the intersection of these roots with climate justice work. Among other positions in both the climate and progressive political spheres, Aly has worked as the State Divestment Organizer for 350Vermont, was one of four core organizers of XL Dissent (the largest youth civil disobedience in a generation, to protest Keystone XL), and served as Press Secretary for Zephyr Teachout’s 2014 New York gubernatorial bid in 2014.

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