My effort to articulate the nature and scope of the FIRELIGHT Social Justice League is a work in progress. Since I believe that collaborative leadership and developmental synergy conceive, give birth to and nurture towards maturity the most powerfully helpful ideas for the benefit of humanity, I welcome your feedback/input if you feel inclined to offer it. Become part of the synergy that brings FSJL to life and nurtures its growth to maturity. If you may want to help bring FSJL to life as a prototype project in your community, please let me know. I’ll be happy to help!
FIRELIGHT SOCIAL JUSTICE LEAGUE
Be the Justice You Want to See in the World
The FIRELIGHT Social Justice League (FSJL) empowers compassionate idealists of all ages who have faith in humanity’s capacity to rise up together beyond our conflicts to live and serve with peace and good will while helping young people who feel left out of life-enriching opportunities. We may base our interactions on the Golden Rule, on the highest principles of grace, altruism and love or on any other principled way of life. It matters not so much how we describe our system of ideals and principles but more how we live them. Whatever our idealistic talk may be, FSJL encourages us to “walk our talk” in reaching deep within ourselves to extend meaningful help beyond ourselves.
Instead of feeling powerless in the face of overwhelming, ever-growing, abstract, nationwide problems labeled “poverty,” “homelessness,” “violence,” “school failure,” “police brutality,” “militarism,” “racism,” “mass incarceration” and other social ills, join FSJL to encourage each of us to help just one young person to overcome these social conditions in local, concrete ways one step at a time. By scaling down societal problems from abstract, overgeneralized, mind-blowing and heart-numbing statistics to the concrete, individual level, FSJL brings the causes of an individual’s “failure to thrive” into clearer focus and permits the individual to address these causes within his or her own life in specific, doable ways. By participating in FSJL, you no longer have to wait until “someone” passes a law, funds a program or discovers a cure while you hope for help to be sufficient. Rather than wait for the “system” or “society” to change, you can express that change without waiting for mass consensus to identify, fund or institutionalize the change. You don’t need to wait for a new bureaucracy to rise up or for the majority to agree with you. You can rise up alongside others in FSJL and become part of the “village” it takes to raise a young person to restored hope and a refreshed outlook on a more promising life. As a member of the FSJL “village,” you can be the answer to one person’s hope for help simply by being a friend who reminds the hopeful person that he or she is not alone and can find help to overcome every problem that arises. It’s not that you provide every answer. It’s that you make sure that the person no longer feels alone in seeking, finding and implementing answers.
With FSJL’s training and on-going village support, you can help one person to pursue his or her hopes and dreams through education and confidence-building experiences. It will revolutionize your own life to witness the valuable impact of your one-on-one helpfulness. FSJL prepares social justice idealists to be trusted friends who encourage young people to believe in themselves, develop self-discipline, diligently build sustainable, meaningful lives and learn to thrive with the support of their community. If you desire to voluntarily help a young person feel no longer alone in the face of life’s challenges and to grow increasingly more competent and confident as a valued community member, FSJL may be the volunteer community service option you’re looking for. Through your participation in FSJL, you, too, will no longer need to face life’s challenges alone and will grow increasingly aware of your own significance both as an individual and as a contributing member of the communities within which you live. By participating in FSJL, everyone develops stronger bonds of trust within themselves and within their relationships and experiences themselves as more interconnected, significant and satisfied with the quality of their lives.
FSJL volunteers befriend young people ages 16 to 22 years old who are –
- Emerging beyond foster care to live independently
- Struggling to live on their own without emotionally supportive family ties
- At risk of dropping out of school, running away from home or becoming a parent prematurely
- At risk of throwing their lives away by using drugs and/or alcohol or by engaging in crime or other self-destructive behaviors
- At risk of being exploited because of poverty, immigration status, unfamiliarity with Chicago, limited language and communication skills, lack of housing, sexual and/or gender orientation or other doubts and shame arising from feeling socially isolated, different, unwanted and/or powerless.
FSJL prepares adults of all ages whose social status is relatively stable and opportunity-rich to befriend young people whose social status is relatively unstable and opportunity-starved. With FSJL’s support, participants will discover together the mutual benefits of enjoying cross-cultural friendships designed to open hearts and minds to seeing how society’s opportunities may be shared more equitably. Some might say that FSJL is a way for the “haves” to help the “have nots.” In truth it is a way for all participants in multicultural experiences to walk together through our common journey as humans, share our stories and explore how everyone is in some way a “have” and in other ways a “have not.” We each have strengths, gifts and resources of diverse nature to help our communities to grow stronger, become more peaceful and offer more justice to everyone inclusively. No one is merely a “have not” unless we make the mistake of valuing people solely on the basis of financial wealth and social privileges. Every human being has inherent value as a person as well as natural gifts to share – value and gifts that participation in FSJL draws out, clarifies as real and encourages us to re-invest in ourselves and our communities.
Within FSJL all participants will grow by practice to understand how to be authentic human beings who work, play, relax, celebrate and share life together while remaining true to their identities as caring, compassionate and contributing members of society. We will practice the principles of nonjudgment and unconditional appreciation while we share our hearts and minds within trustworthy, mutually encouraging friendships. We will learn to have faith in one another to live by the Golden Rule, honoring all others as sisters and brothers within one United Human Family.
FSJL is a gathering of volunteers in service to our community. Our theory is that we serve the whole community when we each befriend an individual for the purpose of supporting the development of all aspects of his or her wholeness. In the process of supporting another person’s development as a whole person, we come to understand and nurture wholeness more completely and effectively within our own lives too. In effect we are learning to appreciate, love and nurture ourselves and our neighbors by learning to appreciate, love and nurture another person whom we initially approach as a stranger and with whom we eventually become a neighbor and friend. Together, as we share our stories, ideas, emotions, dreams and personal presence within FSJL, we create a less judgmental and more accepting and appreciative multicultural society that honors the wholeness of each of its members. This becomes our new experience of the “village” that cares for all of us. Our participation in FSJL’s intentional community-building process exposes us to new possibilities as we open our inner beings to the flow of unity emerging from within us to create collaborative oneness in the context of diversity. We believe that this is one meaningful way to carry out Gandhi’s admonition to be the change in the world we want to see.
FIRELIGHT is an acronym with multiple meanings:
Faith Initiates Rising to Excellence by Learning to Implement Guiding Honored Truths
Freedom Inspires Rising to Excellence by Learning to Implement Guiding Honored Truths
Friendship Invigorates Rising to Excellence by Learning to Implement Guiding Honored Truths
Forgiveness Inculcates Rising to Excellence by Learning to Implement Guiding Honored Truths
This multifaceted acronym expresses FSJL’s vision of a worldwide culture within which all peoples of the earth live at peace with one another because they share in common 1) a commitment to be true to themselves and their loved ones as whole persons while encouraging all others to do likewise and 2) a commitment to be guided by honored truths (rooted in one or more traditions) that favor peaceful unity and collaboration throughout the human race regardless of differences in perspectives and lifestyles of which we may become aware. All honored truths to which participants in FSJL subscribe include at their core the principle that the human race is interconnected and thrives collectively only if all of its members thrive individually. When we learn to implement that core principle of all-inclusive mutual care, our orientation to one another becomes radically more positive and appreciative. We stop assuming that differences are defects and open our minds to the possibility that we are not qualified to judge ourselves as ongoing works in progress and that differences that cause us fear today may simply be revealing fear we need to address and release. As pioneers on the cutting edge of creative developments within a rapidly transforming world, we’ll learn to welcome differences instead of fear them.
Realizing that the human race continues to develop and evolve through continuous upgrades in our collective qualities of wholeness and that amazingly enriching lives can be shared equitably, within FSJL we intentionally set aside our habits of judging differences as right or wrong, good or bad and instead adopt attitudes of acceptance and appreciation for all ways humans are developing. We seek to live by the wisdom expressed by the Sufi poet Rumi when he wrote,
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
Language, ideas, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make sense.”
We also recognize that individuals develop towards progressively more complete expressions of wholeness throughout our lives and that all of us are best served when we encourage each of us to develop fully with authenticity and integrity from the inside outward. Within FSJL, we intentionally nurture each other’s best nature and character and gain wisdom about life from each other’s experiences. With abiding trust in our inherent nature and character as responsible members of the human race and in each other’s capacity to express our true nature and character as manifestations of nonjudgment, mutual appreciation and unconditional love, we expect to walk in trust and unity as promoters of compassion and justice within our families and communities and to the uttermost parts of the land.
In so doing, without waiting for popular approval or media coverage, we dare to step together as the FSJL beyond the status quo to co-create the upgraded society Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Today we have the opportunity, privilege, responsibility, power and capacity within us to build such a society one mutually nurturing friendship at a time. Beyond the singularly focused friendships we intentionally cultivate ripples will extend ever outward to embrace all who come near to be set free from fear that any superficial characteristic they may display will cause them to be judged unsuited for inclusion within the human race in an honored place. By the grace of unconditional love, we who learn to be host to love instead of host to fear extend the unlimited hospitality of all-inclusive caring and sharing to every member of the human race. Unto such amazing hospitality there shall be no end.
Copyright by Art Nicol 2021