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Featured Book for February 2024

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul: How to Change the World in Quiet Ways

by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

A timely, delightfully readable, and much-needed book. Booklist, starred review

Social justice work, we often assume, is raised voices and raised fists. It requires leading, advocating, fighting, and organizing wherever it takes place–in the streets, slums, villages, inner cities, halls of political power, and more. But what does social justice work look like for those of us who don’t feel comfortable battling in the trenches?

Sensitive souls–including those who consider themselves highly emotional, empathic, or introverted–have much to contribute to bringing about a more just and equitable world. Such individuals are wise, thoughtful, and conscientious; they feel more deeply and see things that others don’t. We need their contributions. Yet, sustaining justice work can be particularly challenging for the sensitive, and it requires a deep level of self-awareness, intentionality, and care.

In Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul, writer Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (Enneagram 4, INFJ, nonprofit/social enterprise professional, and multiple-burnout survivor) offers six possible pathways for sensitive types:

– Connectors relational activists whose interactions and conversations build the social capital necessary for change

– Creatives artists and creators whose work inspires, sheds light, makes connections, and brings issues into the public consciousness

– Record Keepers archivists who preserve essential information and hold our collective memory and history

– Builders inventors, programmers, and engineers who center empathy as they develop society-changing products and technologies

– Equippers educators, mentors, and elders who build skills and knowledge within movements and shepherd the next generation of changemakers

– Researchers data-driven individuals who utilize information as a persuasive tool to effect change and propose options for improvement

Alongside inspiring, real-life examples of highly sensitive world-changers, Cheng-Tozun expands the possibilities of how to have a positive social impact, affirming the particular gifts and talents that sensitive souls offer to a hurting world.

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Community Questions

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul Reflection Questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. Dorcas describes a service learning trip that she writes, “…lit a fire in my belly for social justice?” What has lit you up for social justice?
  2. What kind of social justice activist have you tried to be in the past? Was it the right fit for you at the time?
  3. What social justice work have you found the most ease in doing? What has been the most challenging, and how do you think that is connected to your specific sensitivities and vulnerabilities?

Week 2

  1. Share what you have witnessed most, online or otherwise: the dominance of anger in social justice work, or a kind of building of “the beloved community”?
  2. What are some ways you can bring more gentleness, kindness, and compassion to social justice work?
  3. When considering your social justice heros and sheroes, are they angrier, or softer in their approach to social justice work? What does your admiration of them reveal about you?

Week 3

  1. How old are (or were) the activists you admire most? How does your age affect how you feel about doing social justice work?
  2. What social justice activities do you feel like you should be doing? Where does the pressure to do them come from?
  3. In the past, what did your perception of the ideal activist do? Do you live up to that ideal?

Week 4

  1. What has resilience looked like to you, and how does it compare to Dorcas’ idea that resilience is more about holding on to your identity in the face of life’s difficulties?
  2. According to Dorcas, there are over 100 examples of activists not on the front lines. Name three that shimmered for you as you read.
  3. Part III is about pathways to and possibilities of social activism that may not readily be explored. Which do you identify most with?