Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PRACTICING THE COMPASSIONATE LIFE

What is the Social Justice Tradition?

Throughout the history of the Church men and women have dedicated their lives to caring for the hungry, the poor, the naked, the alienated, the sick, and the imprisoned. The social justice tradition has always called the Church to work for equity in all human relations and social structures.

What are some factors that keep us from getting involved in social justice activities?

7 comments:

Lydia said...

What are some factors that keep us from getting involved in social justice activities?

Time is a big one for me - Both Drew (my husband) and I work swing shifts, meaning that our schedules vary wildly from week to week.

There are some weeks when I see a lot of him, but there will also be weeks when we see much less of one another because one of us has been scheduled for first shift and the other second shift work at our respective companies that week or month.

(My shifts change on a weekly basis, his on a monthly.)

As much as I want to become more involved with issues related to social justice, I really don't want to do so at the expense of our bonding or reconnecting time.

I just have yet to figure out how to do both well.

Jemila Monroe said...

Lydia, I am with you on a strong impulse to operate on the scarcity principle in terms of time with my significant other. He's a med student, I'm a seminary student. I tend to resent things that try to impose themselves on our time -- although if I don't feel pressured, I am much more likely to want to become part of something.

For me, having young children is an even bigger obstacle. I wish there were more easily plug-in-able ways to get involved WITH my kids. Frankly I don't have time or energy to do a whole lot of activism in the few minutes here and there that are quiet.

Also, there are so many groups and issues vying for my time, attention, energy and resources that it becomes yet another source of overstimulation for an already sensitive person.

Not sure how to approach this in a balanced way.

Maybe on some level I also feel like if I get involved in one thing I'll feel less able to say no to another without feeling guilty or like I'm being unfair. As irrational as that sounds.

Nancy said...

Lydia and Jemila: I'd have to say that it is the same for me. The biggest thing holding me back is time. Related to this, is the overwhelming number of options of causes to get behind and because time is limited, it feels like you have to make the "perfect" choice and that sort of paralyzes me.

It is quicker to throw money at a cause but this is difficult too with two step-daughters in a private college and my two sons closing in on their own higher ed opportunities.

It requires some creativity. I suppose we have to consider choices like buying fair trade and other socially conscious products as part of our effort in this direction. And we need to realize that this may just have to be enough at certain points in our lives.

Jemila, I agree that eventually finding causes where you can include your children is a great option but at a certain point, that becomes a huge challenge too as far as schedules, commitments, motivation and interests are concerned. I could do better with this one. Perhaps simply educating our children on various human issues could be a contribution? Children can be so naturally compassionate and you hear every once in a while about kids who creatively come up with their own contributions to the huge ocean of need out there. I'm typically so humbled by this.

Anyway...I'm thinking "aloud" here. Thanks for your thoughts.

Lydia said...

Also, there are so many groups and issues vying for my time, attention, energy and resources that it becomes yet another source of overstimulation for an already sensitive person.

I agree with this one as well.

Lydia said...

It requires some creativity.

What about volunteering for yearly events?

Many organizations have a yearly fund-raiser or other event.

I have been thinking about how it might be easier to give, say, one weekend a year (plus the advance planning time) than to find an hour or two each and every week.

It would still be a juggling act, of course, but knowing that there's an end in sight for that year would make me more likely to volunteer in this regard.

Thoughts?

Nancy said...

Yes, maybe committing reasonable chunks of time, like a week end a year would make it feel less overwhelming. I'd be more likely to get into action.

Sometimes being involved may be about "spreading the news" on a particular subject. Word-of-mouth, writing an article, raising the consciousness of others somehow in a faith community, at work, at home. These could all be acts in the social justice tradition.

Donating money, clothing, school supplies, old cell phones to domestic violence shelters on an ongoing basis or as a selected yearly "project".

Have a garden project that raises fruit and/or veggies for a local food pantry, shelter, or group home. Keep a little for your family and give the rest away.

Educate ourselves about migrant workers and the conditions they live in in our own communities. Support or oppose laws and activities that impact migrant workers in positive and negative ways, respectively.

Consider how are communities respond to diversity...are we welcoming or unwelcoming? What can we as individuals do to create more loving community locally?

Ever visited a prison? Who are the people who most often end up incarcerated? What are the statistics on them regarding their demographics and life events that potentially made them vulnerable to illegal activity and/or violence?

Again, I'm just typing as thoughts come to me...maybe it does not have to be all-consuming in time, money and other resources...but we need to try and be aware and responsive somehow. As has been said, finding the proper balance can be a challenge.

Amy said...

I, too, get overwhelmed with both managing our family calendar as well as the variety of choices for social justice issues.

I buy organic and fair trade when I can. My big area of interest has been working with our local women's crisis center. Last year I ran our church's MOPS program, so I had us partner with the shelter for the year. We had a couple gift card drives as well as supported two families for Christmas.

Also, having that contact, I encouraged our pastor to do a sermon on domestic violence. We had representatives from the shelter show up that day with a booth. The ladies that came were in tears at the end of the service. They were so grateful to hear a man speak strongly against abuse of any kind.

Then, this last weekend, I volunteered for 3 hours at the shelter's booth at a local arts festival. It was so much fun an I got to meet a ton of really neat people.

I do get overwhelmed easily. But, this has been an area where I feel like I can do just what Lydia mentioned, do short segments or short commitments. It's still making a difference, but is also manageable.