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Apologetics Current Events Ink Slingers Victoria K

Social Media is Ruining Social Justice: Here’s Why

Note:  OK, OK, the title of this post was unnecessarily incendiary.  I love social media, you probably got to this post via social media.  Social media could never single-handedly ruin social justice.  What’s happened is I noticed a trend with social justice topics on social media, and I wanted to point it out and talk about what we, with a full understanding of Catholic Social Justice, can do about it.

Social Media is Ruining Social Justice Here’s Why

Already Out of Mind

Take a minute to switch tabs back to your social media feed.  How many articles are there about the children separated from their families at the border?  I hope to goodness it’s not none.  But I wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, it’s been a few weeks since the headlines broke.

You know, a few weeks.  Basically an eternity. 

Definitely enough time for the well-being of children to pass from our attention.

It sounds harsh.   But the reality is harsh.  To be completely transparent, I’m guilty too.  Things slip in and out of my notice – largely based on what’s in my social media feed. 

And that isn’t enough.

This doesn’t just apply to the children at the border.  If our commitment to social justice is SOLELY based on our social media scrolling, if our activism is SOLELY reactionary, we are never. going. to. change. ANYTHING. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was amazed by the initiatives to provide aid for these children and to work towards social justice.  But we must build off of their efforts to build lasting change. 

Everyday Social Justice

You may ask…is lasting change even possible?  I would argue yes.  But it’s going to take a mindset shift.

See, I think that social justice is more achievable that we actually give it credit for.   We’ve just been conditioned to look at it completely the wrong way.   In the social media age, social justice is primarily reactionary, rather than an everyday practice.

Here’s what reactionary social justice looks like: I see a headline: Children that are sleeping on the concrete underneath a blanket of tin foil.  And I go “I can’t fix that!”  Because I can’t.  It’s just the truth.

To contrast, here’s what everyday social justice looks like: I get to know the immigrants in my community (I work at a majority Hispanic school).  Within these relationships, I listen to their stories.  Their experiences make me more aware of the political and cultural issues that impact their lives.

Then, I give of my available time and resources.  There’s a first grader struggling to overcome the language barrier, and I advocate for him.  There’s a community fundraiser to get Christmas gifts for children with parents across the border, and I participate.

And for some of you, that exact path is feasible (if so, totally let me know because I’m curious as to your approach!)

For others, it may be a different community that you have the opportunity and skills to help (and still let me know because that’s awesome and inspiring).  The point is, we take small steps towards justice.

 

Everyday Social Justice is Catholic Social Justice

We must commit to everyday social justice.   Because that’s Catholic Social Justice.  Catholic Social Teaching is not based upon simply reacting and jumping on the bandwagon.   It’s about incorporating the call of Christ into our day to day lives.

You’re probably familiar with the corporal works of mercy.  If not, check them out here.

These aren’t every now and then ideals.  These are Christ’s command to us as Christians. 

Maybe it’s giving food and supplies to children at the border.  Maybe it to bagging up extra baby clothes and donating them to a crisis pregnancy center.  Maybe it’s serving a meal at a homeless shelter.  Maybe it’s investing in the community to ensure safety and security of our kids.  Maybe it’s writing a letter to someone in prison.

Whatever it is — Christ expects commitment.

 

“I’m too busy.”

OK, fair enough.  You’re busy.  We’re all busy.  I’ll be the first to advocate for balance and self-care.

Yet I really feel like we need to pick through our priories.  Do you really want to look at Jesus and tell Him you were too busy to help the children at the border who were not properly dressed, eating uncooked frozen meals?

Really?

For me, this ends up being more of a perspective thing than an actual “I’m too busy” thing.  I can’t do the big things so I end up doing nothing at all.

To counter this, here’s my idea for an “I’m too busy” approach to Catholic Social Justice:

  • Every day: Pray for social justice.
  • Every week: Read an article about a current social justice issue. I would totally recommend posting it on social media and sharing your thoughts.
  • Every month: Donate (within your means) to some social justice cause. This can be money or things: A food donation to a pantry, a clothing donation to a homeless shelter, a diaper donation to a crisis pregnancy shelter.  Extra points for committing to one cause or organization with which you can form a lasting relationship.
  • Every 4-6 months: Complete some larger service project.

You may be able to do more, maybe you have to do a little less.   Start small if you have to – but start.  Christ will take what you give and make it grow – He’s amazing like that.

 

Where are the Catholics?

Your small commitment is so essential.  Because we need to be working.  Every day.  We need to anticipate headlines.  We need to fight for what’s right even before it’s a “hot button” issue.

So that, when someone asks: “Where are the Catholics when…?”

The response should be:

“We’re already here.

And we’d love it if you joined us.”

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Current Events Ink Slingers Michelle Respect Life Spiritual Growth

Yes, America is Still a Great Nation

As our 4th of July celebrations come to a close and we begin our new work week, there is something that has been on my mind and on my heart. To be honest, I thought about it the entire weekend.

america is dyingOn Friday I read an article by Matt Walsh entitled, “No, America is Not a Great Nation.”  I don’t normally read many of his writings and only clicked through because a trusted friend had linked up the story. His style of writing is not one that I typically read as I am tenderhearted and tend to stay away from controversial matters, especially ones that get heated fast. However, when I do read his writings, I often find myself agreeing with some of his points. This article was no different. I found myself thinking about all the ways our nation has failed and how we are not the “great” nation we used to be.

Mr. Walsh pointed out that we’ve become a nation of people who kill babies, burn down our cities, push birth control on our children, glorify pornography, are unable to have differing opinions without being called racist, homophobic, or intolerant, and who ignore the Constitution when it fits our needs. And he’s right. Our nation has become all those things. Our Founding Fathers are probably hanging their heads in shame for us. The nation we fought so hard to become is not a nation of peace, freedom, and hope anymore.

Or is it?

As I sat reading the article on Friday, something just didn’t sit right with me. While these accusations are true, I think Mr. Walsh misses a very important point. His reader asked for hope and to show how our nation is still great. After pointing out all our failings, Mr. Walsh asks his readers, “If so, what’s so great about being great? Where is the optimism in that miserable greatness? Where is the hope for the future if moral bankruptcy, selfishness, confusion, stupidity, deviancy and failure are “great”?

As the weekend passed and I celebrated our nation’s birth with our family and friends, I couldn’t help but think of this article over and over again. The point I think that Mr. Walsh misses is that while all these terrible things are true about our nation, the hope and the fire for freedom and equality are still alive in the nation’s people! I know because I see it on a daily basis.

stand for life 5Our nation has slaughtered almost 56 million innocent lives since the passing of Roe v. Wade. The numbers are staggering and grip at the heart and soul. But even while many have become apathetic to this plight, there are others who stand up and fight for life! There are people who pray outside of abortion clinics, those who run pregnancy resource centers, there are Stand for Life rallies, and 40 Days for Life events. There are people meeting behind the scenes trying to figure out ways to end this scourge. Yes, abortion is rampant in our society but there is still hope. Those who fight for life will tell you that even in the face of incredible odds the fight is worthwhile and good. There is hope.

stand for life 18I think about our cities burning and lawlessness being encouraged and celebrated. There has been a steady rise in crime and unlawful acts and it seems as if people not only don’t respect the law, but other humans as well. As the wife of a police officer, I can’t tell you how many times I have feared for my husband’s life and for those whom we call family- brothers and sisters of the badge.  My heart cries when I watch the news and see all the violence and crime and worry about what will face our children in the future. But there is still hope. There are good men and women willing to fight evil on the front lines, sacrificing everything if called to do so, to protect us from those who would bring us harm. They still respect our nation’s laws and swear to uphold them to the best of their ability. They may not always do it perfectly, but they are still trying, sacrificing for the betterment of our society. There are so many honorable men and women in this nation. There is hope.           

When I think about our citizens I do wonder what has gotten into the minds and hearts of some. Why would they care so little about one another? How can they disregard life the way they do? How can they destroy their neighborhoods or what others have built up through hard work? It’s not only violence that I’m thinking about when I contemplate this. I wonder how people can ignore the needs of others so that they can find financial gain or status. Why do they consider others unimportant and disposable?

SAM_1512While it is true that there are many who are willing to destroy the lives and the well-being of others either through violence or self-gain, there are many others who are working hard to rebuild neighborhoods and lives through the gift of volunteerism and charity. I don’t have to go far to witness this in my own life. We just returned from a mission trip to help minister to the homeless and needy. While our trip was a short one, there are many who work on a daily basis to help improve the lives of others. Those who work in soup kitchens, shelters, pregnancy resource centers, food pantries, churches, hospitals, organizations that work to improve neighborhoods like People Working Cooperatively, Habitat for Humanity, organizations that help individuals obtain their high school diplomas or to find work, and those who respond to crisis situations or natural disasters. There are millions of people who donate their time, money, and talent every single day to lift up others and to make our world a better place. There is hope.

Leading our children to God
Photo courtesy of Michael T. Barrett

We may look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed and worried. It seems as if at every turn our religious rights are being stripped away from us. If they aren’t being stripped away they are being corrupted and dismantled. Sometimes it feels like we are the lone follower standing up for what we believe. But this is not so. We have people who dedicate their time and talent to teaching our children the faith- religious education instructors, youth leaders, vacation bible school teachers, and religious brothers, sisters, and priests. They encourage us, as our children’s primary faith educators, to stay the course and to be faithful. The world is so loud all around us, shouting for us to turn our back on what we believe, but there are many who are willing to stand up devoutly to teach and proclaim the truth. There is hope.

We went to our local fireworks show on the Fourth. The forecast was calling for storms, but when we arrived we had hope that the rain might hold off. We sat with friends on the hill watching the orchestra warm up. Our children blew bubbles and rolled down the hill without a care in the world. When the orchestra began playing “The Star Spangled Banner”, every single person rose from their seats. With hands over our hearts, some sang and some simply took in the beauty of seeing so many honoring our nation. I felt hope.

fireworks
Photo courtesy Michael T. Barrett

Soon though, the rain moved in and many would leave before the fireworks would begin. We sat in our car and waited. Despite the rain, the event organizers decided to go ahead with the fireworks. When they started we jumped from our car and headed out to watch. As my family stood in the rain on Saturday night watching the fireworks that celebrated our nation’s birth and greatness, I could help but feel proud and encouraged. Despite the downpour there were hundreds of others willing to weather the storm to give honor and thanks for the sacrifices that so many have endured over the years to help our country flourish and grow.  I looked around me and saw hope.

It’s easy to look at our problems and think that all is lost. But God is still very much alive in our nation. We only have to look at those who are working to make our nation better- those who sacrifice their time, their talents, and their energy to help those in need; those who are protecting our nation both abroad and on the home front; those who are imparting our faith to our children and helping to nourish our souls; those who fight for the life of all of God’s children. Yes, there is much wrong in our nation, but we are still a nation filled with many good and honorable people. If, like Mr. Walsh says, we are not able to separate the people from the nation, I believe that this means we still live in a great nation- one that is overflowing with hope.

It only took one man dying on the cross to bring hope to the world. That hope is eternal and regardless of what our worries are or where we think our nation is headed, there is always hope.

flag and crucifix

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Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth Uncategorized

Sharing My Words of Wisdom

This summer the teens of our parish went on a mission trip as they do each summer. This year they went to Catholic Heart Work Camp to volunteer in Orlando helping the needy.  As with every year we were asked to write letters to our children to encourage them during their long week of service.   I wrote letters for my children to open each day. I assigned the days I wanted them to read them.  It was a labor of love but I wanted them to know how proud I was of their sacrifices.  They are becoming amazing teens!

So proud of the amazing people they are becoming!

We were encouraged to write to the other kids who were also on the trip.  They would need words of encouragement to help get them through the long days ahead of them. The more people writing to all of the kids, the better!  I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me while I wrote my letter to them.  It would be photocopied (as were all letters from parishioners to hand out to the teens) and distributed on the day that our youth leader deemed fit.  I started writing.   I wanted my letter to be different than others they would receive and I hoped that it would help them not just while they were gone on the mission trip but also during their daily lives as well.

I thought I would share part of that letter here, with you, so that perhaps it may help you through the hard times that crop up in your life.  I know that these particular ideals have helped me get through some of the hardest times in my life.

Words of Wisdom from Michelle
(to help you through the week and through life)

  • Smile.  You never know what an impact your smile might make on someone else today!
  •  Pray.  Pray that God will work through your words and actions each and every day so that everyone who encounters you will encounter Him.
  • Love. See Jesus in each person and show them the love you would show Him.
  • Eat.  Eat chocolate every day.  Seriously.  I promise it makes you feel better. Ok, maybe it just makes me feel better but chocolate is oh, so good!
  • Sing.  Sing in the shower, in the car, while you are working, while you are praying.  Singing makes your heart smile and puts an extra spring in your step.
  • Hope.  There is always something to hope for.  Life can seem hard but there is always something to look forward to, even if it’s just the chance for a better day tomorrow.
  • Laugh.  Each day find something to laugh about.  When we can laugh even the hardest day doesn’t seem as hard.
  • Trust.  Don’t build fences around yourself and lock everyone out.  Trust that God has put the right people in your path.  Trust that they will help you through whatever you are going through.  Trust that God loves you and wants what’s best for you.
  • Play.  Every day find some time to play.  Don’t forget what it feels like to be a kid.  Be responsible but make sure you have fun too.  Playing will keep you young.
  • Respect.  Respect yourself and others.  God is amazing and He has given you so much.  Respect those people who God gives you to help you through it all… your parents, your teachers, your priests, your friends, and of course, always respect yourself as well.
  • Give.  Give of yourself.  Give your time, your talent, your treasures, and your love.  You can’t believe how much you get back in return when you give freely to others.
  • Serve.  We are called to be servants to each other.  Serve with a happy heart.  When we serve others we serve God.
  • Believe.  Believe in God.  Believe in miracles.  Believe that God made you in His perfect image. Believe that God loves you.  Believe that you are important.  Believe that in Him all things are possible.  Believe that God can work through you.  Believe that you can make a difference!

In a world where I understand so little, it’s nice to know that I can fall back on these pearls of wisdom to keep me on the right path.  I hope that they will help you too.  You are important.  The things you do with your life are important.  Smile, pray, love, eat, sing, hope, laugh, trust, play, respect, give, serve, and believe… when you do, you will find your life has so much joy in it that you can’t help but be happy.