For the past year, I have worked as the Social Justice Coordinator for Samford University’s University Ministries. Since first serving in this position, I have grown in my passion for justice work while simultaneously advocating for a myriad of issues. It wasn’t until I arrived at this farm that I realized the work of justice is really difficult. Similar to Aaron, I was initially unsure of what my time at Berea would consist of, and during the first week, I became easily frustrated with some of the tasks that required my time. I had spent so much of my time proclaiming the goodness of justice and the need for others to carry it out, that my body had not spent any of its energy enacting that justice.
To bring about the new creation is not an easy feat. Furthermore, its difficulty is compounded by the effects of a culture that has begun to glorify the ideal of social justice. Doing the actual work of environmental and food justice does not provide the warm fuzzy feeling documentaries lead you to presume it will. I don’t lay my head down at night to wake the next day with a continued sense of determination as I act for the common good. Rarely do either of those things happen. What does happen is a renewed recognition of how God is bringing about justice through God’s creation. I have begun to glean more of God’s presence through the dirt of the garden and the work of the field.
The reality is, justice is difficult. Pieces of our culture have romanticized it to the point that the actual work seems less rewarding that advocating for the work to be done. But on this side, when you decide to commit and do the work for longer than a week, the new creation begins to change you. The work is hard, but the work is good. Without the work, both the advocacy and the education become meaningless. If those who proclaim the value of justice do not act, then who should bother to listen to them?