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  • Dr. Shelly Harrell

Weekend Wisdom: Being of Service

Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. -Shirley Chisholm

Sometime the pain of the world feels particularly heavy. The earthquake in Haiti. People fleeing Afghanistan. The spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. The ongoing assaults of voter suppression. I find myself reflecting on the concept of service. Acts of service affirm our humanity and the humanity of others. Acts of service illuminate our interconnectedness. Acts of service can shift the scales toward justice.

One of the most powerful and inclusive frameworks for service is Deepa Iyer's 10 Social Change Roles. The framework opens space to see ourselves as social change agents through applying strengths that we already have. The framework invites us to identify and express our gifts through service and action as Visionaries, Frontline Responders, Healers, Disruptors, Weavers, Caregivers, Builders, Storytellers, Guides, or Experimenters. In Iyer's social change ecosystem map, each role contributes something valuable towards realizing justice, liberation, equity, and solidarity.

While I use this beautiful framework in teaching my Community Psychology class at UCLA, it is also both grounding and inspiring when the heaviness and pervasiveness of injustice hits me particularly hard. It is affirming and energizing to reconnect to my natural roles of Guide, Caregiver, Weaver, and Healer. What social change roles most reflect your gifts?

We have a responsibility for each other and, as Shirley Chisolm reminds us, a responsibility to give of ourselves in the spirit of gratitude for the privilege of living.

With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,

Dr. Shelly Harrell


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