"Oneness" and Justice: A Lenten Reflection by Hazel Johnson

I draw on the wisdom of the Enneagram [personality test] to continue to develop my understanding of my spirit, actions and intentions. As a [type] one on the Enneagram, I tend to see the world from how it should be. I want to improve, reform, correct and fix things to the ideal of how it “ought” to be. This, though perceived as rigid, really supports my drive for social justice work. Because I desire for the world to be “right”, I have identified the things that make that world come into fruition. My experience as a one has drawn me deeper into relationships with others and those relationships have pushed me back out into the world to work for justice.

Enneagram scholar Helen Palmer writes that “[Enneagram personality type] ones are attracted to purist points of view, which provide a safe launching pad for righteous anger in the name of a worthy cause.” However, in my experience as a community organizer and leadership development facilitator, I have had to check myself in my perfectionism.

A few years ago, I was given the task to create a youth organizing network that helps bring Lynn teens out of systems of oppression. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! After being in Lynn for 3 days I “knew” exactly what the teens needed. I had a goal to have our first event with 50 people present and when that day came there were 5 people present. My perfect gathering and my perfect image fell flat.

Later that week, I sat down with one of my core teens and he just flat out told me “Hazel, you need to be realistic. Did you think that you could come into a new city and just create something without it being hard?” That hurt coming from a 15 year old, but he was right. How could I believe that I had the answers? How could I let me desire to be right cloud the core principle of community organizing- relationships?

My “oneness” gets in the way of the process by which we come to know justice in our world. Relationships, for me, are a key pathway to bring justice and peace, but my “the way things ought to be” mentality creeps in from time to time. That’s when I use the Enneagram to deepen my understanding of the different ways people interact in the world, and that strengthens my own self-awareness. From that re-evaluation place, I am able to return to the justice work assured that I do not have the right answer and that it is just fine. As a one, I have to constantly examine my intentions. The Enneagram helps me to be a more self-reflective and flexible leader so that true justice remains the focus. 

As I look to the 40 days (and more) ahead, I am reminded that God does not need me to be put together or perfect. God desires to be with me and that is what the Enneagram has been for me- a tool to help me grow in the truth of who I am and that brings me deeper into my relationship with God.


Hazel Johnson is a Nevada native that moved to Boston in 2011 to participate in Life Together. Her work included organizing Lynn’s first youth organizing network and partnering with the Youth Jobs Coalition to secure $8.6 million in youth summer jobs funding. Community organizing introduced her to the Leadership Development Initiative where she continues to work as a facilitator and presenter. Currently, Hazel is pursuing her MDiv at Boston University School of Theology in hopes to be a bridge between her interests in leadership development, theology and political action.