by Taylor Malone, PJALS Young Activist Leader

It can be difficult for activists to remain confident and optimistic about the impact we have on our community. Changes come so slowly and with so much opposition that, at times, I feel like Sisyphus, always pushing but never quite making it. One of the most inspiring ways I’ve found to relieve these pessimistic feelings of defeat is to surround myself with others who believe just as passionately in improving our world, and the 2012 Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference provided just such an occasion.

Such a diverse group of participants came this year, allowing all of us to share our stories and learn from each other. Attendees came from organizations large and small, from different ages, races, and genders, and from a variety of countries, but all dedicated to the betterment of society and themselves.

This gathering from many backgrounds and perspectives for discussion is perhaps the most essential function of the Conference. So many events bring people into the same space but fail to bridge communication gaps. Throughout the day, as a host and participant, I saw complete strangers strike up discussions about matters important to them. Friendships were formed, ideas were shared, and our fellowship of vibrant, compassionate activists became stronger.

When I find myself being negative or doubting the effectiveness of my work, I try to recall the sense of community that colored the Conference. Changing society is hard, but it isn’t impossible. With so many of us doing what is right, how can we do anything but succeed?