The third phase of the Circle, to act, builds on the first two. The Circle invites us to thoughtful and constructive action rather than impulsive and destructive reaction. It challenges us to refrain from acting until the first two phases of the Circle have been engaged. It takes into consideration the reality observed, in light of lessons learned and principles critically reflected upon, and only then is action considered.
Action is creative and unique in that it is informed by the stories and insights of a specific reality at a given moment in time, in a particular culture and context. There is no cookie-cutter response, no single act that will necessarily make sense or be appropriate in any or every given situation. In fact, political theorist Gene Sharp categorizes 198 methods of social justice, nonviolent action that have been used by individuals and peoples globally over the years. Thus, our capacity, our place and perspective, our resources, our experience, and the extent of our engagement with the first two phases of the Circle, all influence how we respond, what we choose to do.
With our immigration example, individuals and groups who work with immigrants and who have witnessed firsthand the harm of unjust practices and policies may choose to accompany, defend, or advocate on behalf of a particular group of immigrants. Other social workers may work with and through social work professional associations and organizations to craft or challenge immigration policy, or march for immigrant rights, or join with others to educate the public about the unjust effects of immigration policy.
As part of our class, students engaged this phase by deciding to educate and organize other students, and the university community, with respect to the issue of becoming a sanctuary school. They then sought a meeting with the administration to invite them to change university policy. In the end, they were successful, and our university is now a sanctuary school.