One of the recommendations I have given some of my students who want to move in the direction of a deeper commitment to social justice after university studies is: Find and nurture a community. Without other people on a similar path to encourage and challenge you, it will be easier to forget the suffering of our city and our world, and it can be harder to resist the consumerism and complacency of middle-class American life.
Recently, I finished a small book by Thich Nhat Hanh that elaborates on this advice I have shared with recent graduates of Saint Louis University. Nhat Hanh, who was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King back in the mid-1960s for the Nobel Peace Prize, was an important influence on both Trappist monk Thomas Merton and Jesuit peacemaker Daniel Berrigan. He has lived in exile from his native Vietnam since 1966, and has inspired a large following in Western countries since the 1980s. In addition to being a Zen Master, poet, and activist, he is a prolific author. The book I want to bring to your attention is entitled Joyfully Together: The Art of Building a Harmonious Community (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2003).