The question echoed around the group. "What are you doing now?" as related to social justice. I mean, we all cared. Many of us had been on mission trips galore in our younger years. Now, we're all married, most with young kids, full time jobs, houses... what are we doing to further the cause of justice now? For a while, my husband and I were serving dinner downtown every month, but when the leadership changed, we got out of the loop. A couple of us bought school supplies for low-income schools at the end of the summer. Some of us occasionally fill a Yellow Bag. Most are planing on participating in the Weekend of Service in a month. These are all episodic ways to serve- anyone doing anything regularly?
We all care about the cause of justice- that has been evident as we have discussed this book. Helping the poor and marginalized matters to us, but we don't have a block of time in our schedules regularly devoted to a cause. Why not? Here's some of the answers:
- Time - We work 40+ hour weeks, have to keep our own household running, and don't have a spot in our week we see that we can give to a ministry. We're in the suburbs, and many of the ministries are downtown- the travel time to and from the ministry makes the required block of time we need to find even larger.
- Kids - There are 5 kids 5 & under in our group, and another on the way. Many "justice missions" aren't toddler-friendly. Should we find babysitting so that we can serve? Or should spouses not be able to serve together, and the already-limited Family Time be cut down even more?
- Commitment - Particularly honest group members brought this up. Are we ready to make an ongoing commitment to an unknown organization and unknown people? Can we really promise we'll be there every week/month/whenever? As for me, I hate letting people down, so if I commit to something, and know someone's expecting me to be or do something, I have to do it. Can I handle yet another commitment in my life?
- Fear of failure - We'll get to a ministry, and then discover we can't actually change the world, or even a small corner of it. The person whose life we get deeply involved in will continue to make wrong choices, or still can't find a job, and our work will seem for naught. Are we setting ourselves up for failure?
- "It'll mess us up" - The suburbs are safe. We have our issues here, but they're typically hidden behind privacy fences and garage doors, and not talked about in polite society. If we get our hands dirty in the poverty and mess that is Social Justice Work, we'll get messed up. We'll see what really goes on in the world. Our heart may break. We may get cynical. We may get- gasp- liberal. Our perspective will change, and our happy suburban bubble will be popped.
So what was our action point of the evening? I'm bringing dessert to our next meeting on Monday. And we all have some thinking to do. Reportedly, the next chapter addresses the Time issue. The one group member who has finished the book has said it's gonna mess us up. Maybe she's right.