One of our electives this fall is Social Justice. We are using the 6 part series titled Seeking Social Justice produced by the Heritage Foundation and offered free by Compass Classroom.
Social justice is "justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society".
Social justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Social justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last time I checked The United States of America is NOT a socialist country, even though we are moving steadily in that direction. Social justice is NOT the distribution of resources in the hopes of achieving equality and therefore a “just” society. This is NOT the definition I want my girls to internalize when they go out into the world. Seeking Social Justice has helped us to create our own family definition of social Justice:
Social Justice is identifying a need in the community and devoting one’s available time, money and resources to affect a lasting change in the identified community. It is not forced, but offered of free will. It is not a mandate, but rather a commitment to walking in the path of Jesus Christ.
~our family definition
The first part of Seeking Social Justice identifies that most people in need are in need because of a breakdown in relationships in their lives and the resulting attempt to fill their need with people/substances that cannot produce a positive outcome.
The remaining episodes address each one of the relationships:
- Rethinking Social Justice | Trevecca Nazarene University (Intro)
- Cultivating Justice from the Ground Up | HIS Bridgebuilders (Marriage)
- Serving the Whole Person | Leesburg Baptist Church (Church)
- Restoring Dignity and Purpose | Men of Valor Prison Ministry (Work)
- Maintaining the Social Conditions for Justice | Shyima's Story (Government)
- Breaking Ground | Summary (Individuals)
We have watched the first three episodes. They can take us anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on how much discussion and explanation is necessary for the girls to ask their questions and come to their own understanding. A half credit is 60 hours so this alone will not fulfill a credit or half credit. When I think of subjects I like to look at what the girls are already doing, interested in and think of how we can expand on it, explode it really, and dig deep into the understanding behind it.
Our family has participated in monthly dinners at a local homeless shelter for a few years. We serve once or twice a year but have never been responsible for coordinating a dinner. Through our church, a need was identified: serving the homeless a warm, homemade meal. That sounds a lot like our definition of social justice. But how could our family affect lasting change?
Serving one dinner, once a month may not make a life changing impact on the residents. However, serving a dinner once a month in conjunction with several other churches and civic organization who are also serving one dinner a month, allows the agency that runs the shelter to operate. It allows them to continue to make an impact in the lives of the residents by connecting them with resources to help overcome the damaged relationships in their lives and begin to replace the things they have sought out, specifically drugs and alcohol with new beginnings, new relationships and new opportunities.
Here is where we can take our at home learning and connect it to life. What we learn on these episodes plays out before us when we are at the shelter. We spoke to a young man, younger than us, who have had a marriage collapse and because he used money as a vehicle for happiness, he lost everything. There is no more powerful experience than to take your knowledge and understanding and apply it to life and see if what you thought you knew is really in fact true. It is for this reason that these videos are one of my favorite curriculum elements this year.
When I offered our family to host this month’s dinner, I had hoped it would be another experience that stayed with us. This was the first time I was responsible for the meal planning, the cooking, the serving and the coordinating with the shelter staff. Up until now we had always accompanied other families who had more experience with this ministry. My sister in law joined us and together we cooked sloppy joes, macaroni & cheese which was served with watermelon and lots of desserts. We estimate about 25 people were served.
Prior to this dinner Lilah and her friends gathered at our house to create bookmarks made from card stock paper they painted, cut, decorated and wrote on. Since all the girls are Catholic, they were all very comfortable writing scripture on the cards. I sealed the bookmarks with Mod Podge and they were given freely. To see a resident accept a meal and choose a bookmark and exclaim “I am worthy!” is a powerful experience. Hopefully we have a small part in filling a person’s spirit with the positive affirmation of God’s love for us.
This dinner took 6 credit hours. 3 for the actual dinner, 2 for baking and 1 for bookmark creation. So far we have 7.5 hours towards 60 required for a half credit. But more importantly, far more important than the “credit” is the understanding that they will carry with them for a lifetime.