Between Privilege and Vulnerability: Social Responsibility

familyOur Pastor has been preaching on the “Great Ends of the Church.”  I am embarrassed to say that I missed what all the great ends are.  Last week’s sermon (which was awesome) was about telling our truth. We had a great Black History Month litany honoring truth tellers in a variety of fields (art, music, science, education, etc.).  This week Pastor Heather is leading a group in Israel so Rev. Cindy came to preach. I LOVE Cindy, really I do. You know you meet someone and you instantly feel like “I could hang out with her often.” Yep. That’s how I feel about Rev. Cindy Kohlman.  Today she ROCKED the message on Justice and Social Responsibility.  As a social worker I was “Yea. Right on! We are about justice and helping others, and spreading the good news, and social responsibility.”

I wish the sermon had been tapped so y’all could see because I am not able to do her justice! She asked if some folks were uncomfortable. I ask this in my diversity courses all the time, with the premise that my space is safe and there will be discomfort because diversity…justice…social responsibility is challenging, controversial to some, and uncomfortable to many. The question for today’s sermon was “What Shall We (You) Do?” Justice and Social Responsibility is ACTIVE work! (Ephesians 4:25-29, 5:8-7 and Luke 3:1-14).

Our son, who has no enemy that he knows of and everyone he meets is a friend knows how worldto do justice and social responsibility in a very nice 5 year old way.

  1. On the playground or in a play setting he may notice that a child is different in some way and that does not stop him form playing with that child or inviting that child to play if the child was not already playing.
  2. Three times now at school I have received an email from his teacher saying that our son shared his costume with someone who forgot to wear their costume for that day (Whakcy Dr. Seuss Wednesday, or some other day…)
  3. Whenever we go out – to a friend’s house, to church, to a meeting, wherever…he insists that I pack enough snacks for him to be able to share with others. Sometimes he doesn’t get a snack he’s so busy sharing!
  4. While he likes to consider himself a BIG boy at age 5 and tends to gravitate to the older children (ages 10 and up), he always first looks out for those younger than him – giving them his toys to play with, a snack, a hug, before running off to be a big boy!
  5. When he is tired of a book or toy he always says “Mommy, you should give this to so-and-so.” We then discuss making a bag of toys and clothes to give away either to friend or to an organization.

His heart is so BIG and sensitive.  I am heartened that even though he has faced not being included because of his age or gender or race, he still takes the time to make sure to include and give to others.  (He by the way is often oblivious to being excluded…that’s a blog for another time). The scripture that come to mind is Matthew 25:45 “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

We, of course have done some prompting on giving, being generous, being aware of others and their situation. But our son has done a lot of 5 year old social responsibility work on his own.  Our job now is to continue to nurture that and make sure he continues to become more aware, ask bigger questions, and continue to actively work for justice. Because even those who have been oppressed or fee vulnerable or discriminated against have MUCH to give!

If your child has the tendency to ask questions, be generous, include others, give of him or herself – ENCOURAGE it and engage him or her in age appropriate discussions about justice and social responsibility.  One of the things I see missing in the larger society is justice being enacted across cultures, ethnicities, ages, genders, religions, political affiliations, religions – it’s OUR world and we ALL have a responsibility to do GOOD and RIGHT!

 

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#GivingTuesday

familyThe title of this blog I realize is a cliche.  People always have catchy titles and phrases for the different days of the week to draw attention to their posts.  This title is sincere.

Our son is 5. He is an only child. He is smart, creative, resourceful, independent, strong-willed, giving & selfish at the same time, and athletic.  His birthday was in November with Christmas just weeks after.  He is accustomed to receiving a lot of gifts (not from us) from aunts, uncles, cousins, etc who adore him primarily because everyone else’s children are grown, gone, and don’t care! I do not like to use the term “spoiled” to describe children, but our son is somewhere in that category of privileged.

Being a social worker and educator and haven been raised the way I was (all social justice-y and action-oriented), I have tried to explain to him the plight of vulnerable people with less than enough resources.  This usually happens when we are sitting at a particular red light where there is usually a man with a sign asking for money. My son always asks about that man (or whomever is standing out there). I usually over-explain. My husband rolls his eyes. My sons sighs. I am disappointed.  He has gone with us to serve food to the hungry, donate toys to the needy, is very aware of racial injustice, asks what the news anchor is talking about, etc., etc., etc.

“Maybe he is too young to get it” I often think, always searching for an appropriate book (that I should probably write) or opportunity to show/explain appropriate & effective giving. Then today in the mail this arrived

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YAY! What a way for us to start 2016 explaining to our son about those who need something he has – the ability to run and play sports without hindrance – he gets that!.  He LOVES sports and anything vaguely athletic.  He was 3 years old reciting the names of countries, recognizing their flags because of the Men’s World Cup Soccer tournament in 2014!  I have a chance to help our son truly understand giving. I think he’ll get it.

How do you explain need, poverty, vulnerability, disability, etc to your children? How do you get your children to participate in giving?