On Generosity And Justice

Posted by Tesa Silvestre on Aug 7, 2015
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I just discovered the Service Space stream this morning, and it made me so happy to read some of the posts, and press that smile button! I am feeling moved to share with you an inspiring and skillful talk by Anand Giridharadas: The Thriving World, the Wilting World and You. I really appreciated the clarity with which he talks about the dangers of using generosity as a substitute for justice. He was talking about money-based philanthropy, but it also struck me as a valid concern for 'time' or 'attention' based generosity, including small acts of kindness. I occasionally observe people (myself included) who use an act of kindness as a substitute for an act of repair: doing something sweet for someone we may have upset, instead of doing the more challenging work of learning about the impact of our actions and finding out what might be needed (from the other's perspective) to repair the relationship. Conversely, I also sometimes notice people working toward justice in ways that radically lack in compassion and generosity, and consequently further divides without accomplishing the hoped for outcomes.

The question I have been exploring is: Under what conditions do generosity and justice mutually strengthen rather than undermine each other?

I wonder what stories and people model and embody that integration for you. I am also curious about where you see small acts of kindness beginning to alter or repair systemic injustices in ways that feel meaningful and impactful, even if on a small scale.  ‚ÄčI leave you with another inspiring article written recently by Adrienne Maree Brown on the topic of how to work toward justice in kinder ways.  It is called What is / isn't Transformative Justice.  

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Comments (1)

  • Gayathri Ramachandran wrote ...

    After reading today's beautiful DG piece by Tesa, I had an instinct that Tesa would be a part of ServiceSpace! So I looked for you here. Though we've never met, Tesa, I want to say thank you for your poetry and the 'Farewell Badger' piece in particular. Very moved, inspired and instructed on how to hold space for those facing loss