“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages”
~ September 1, 1939, W. H. Auden
As someone who has long been concerned with issues of justice and social redemption, this poem has struck a chord with me for quite some time. And time and again, when reading this bit of Auden’s September 1, 1939, I imagine all of the social ills of the world continuing on uninterrupted until these “points of light” break in as justice-seekers and kingdom-builders busy themselves with the work laid out for them.
In our “behind the scenes” work of collaboration on behalf of Santa Barbara’s survivors, I have recently tried to keep this image at the forefront of my mind. Jeff or I will rarely, if ever, spend time interacting with survivors of trafficking or exploitation, and because of this the work that we do will inevitably at times feel disconnected from those on whose behalf we are working. But rather than a flood light or a glaring beam as direct interaction might be akin to, the work that Jeff and I engage in—and that you as our supporters enable us to do—looks much more like these “ironic points of light” “dotted everywhere” as we collaborate and call community members to action on behalf of the marginalized in our community. Further, this image can be an encouragement to all in various sectors and positions; we can all benefit from the reminder to measure our effectiveness based not upon glaring and obvious successes but rather upon the conglomerate of small acts that advance the cause of justice in our communities.