A Joyful Struggle

We ended our final SW 505 class by discussing the experience of our “joyful struggle”.  I think this is a great term.  It speaks to the experience of social workers who deal in the messy, infuriating, depressing, uphill, unfair, unjust spaces in our communities.  When people are sitting at home watching the news thinking, “who will do something about this?”  The answer can reliably be: social workers.

We take on the messy parts of society to improve them.  But inevitably fatigue sets in, the negative thought-loops in our heads become stronger, louder, and faster, and our resolve is challenged.  We question our motives, our methods, and our impact.  We wonder if it’s worth it.

So how do we maintain joy in this struggle?  How do we continue to fight our good fights in the face of our own adversity as well as the adversity of our causes?

We must find ways to remind ourselves why joined the fight.  We must find strength in communities that also embrace the mess.  This work is difficult and it is easy to get lost in the storm of overwhelming criticism, systemic barriers, frustrating clients, prohibitive policies, and massive societal structures that seem expertly designed to defeat us and too big too overcome.  In those moments, let us be the David to their Goliath.  Let us press on like so many noble fighters before us.  Let us stand on the shoulders of giants and remember that no effort for justice is ever wasted.  Not every day will be our best day.  But each day that we have the opportunity to make our world more just is a gift.  Let us find gratitude in moments of success and failure, and let us remember that we are never alone.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ― Calvin Coolidge

“If I have seen further it was by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on with a hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never, ever walk alone

Walk on, walk on with a hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never, ever walk alone – Rodgers and Hammerstein


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