Not far from where I live now is a school with an MFA program that had, at one point, a marked focus on social justice. When I first saw it, I scoffed. “Ugh,” I said. “As if! You write because you’re driven to write, not because you have an axe to grind!” At the time, the friends I said this to nodded, or said “Riiight,” and I went on blithely, never once guessing that maybe they were indulging my statement, or maybe just indulging me.
I really did believe that we are driven to write; that whether or not you feel the need to address social justice came second. Sometimes, I still feel like this. Recently, I have penned everything from essays on mailboxes to essays about my dad reading me a poem in my native language, and none of these was written with an eye on social justice.