#3: So many social justice issues!

 

It’s hard because so much coverage has been given to the big social justice issues, which is wonderful and important, but it’s also difficult to find something to say or some way to help that hasn’t already been done. In my last blog post I talked about issues my parents find important. I think they’re important too, but may not be exactly what I’m interested in. So I’m going to do exactly what I always do when I’m a little confused and at a loss for what choice is best (which happens quite a lot, especially now with choosing/applying to colleges!) Here are my ideas:

-Recently I’ve really felt a split even within my church on social justice issues. Things like gay marriage, abortion rights, even climate change have come up and caused a lot of hurt and division within congregations. I’m interested in how churches are dealing with rising social justice issues, and if despite differing opinions they will still be able to function as a community and work together in ways they could in the past. I think I could really dig into this issue because I’ve been born and raised going to church, and my parents were catholic and now protestant so I spent a lot of time in different religious environments and know a lot of people who share a belief in God and yet feel so differently about certain issues.

-I’m also interested in DACA because one of my close friends is the daughter of a mexican immigrant. She’s incredibly smart, thoughtful, hardworking– everything that “America” says it values. Why would we throw these people out of the country just because they couldn’t get the education or living standards they wanted in Mexico? It’s something I’ve always been interested, but am just starting to learn more about, and would be super excited to focus on. I would have to think about how I could become and expert on the issue just because I wouldn’t want to intrude on anyone’s privacy (especially now because the more information out there about a person the more danger they’re in.)

-My third idea comes from my discussion with my parents. Living on minimum wage. A Lot of my family came from situations where they survived on the bare minimum, but my whole life my parents have worked and I’ve had more than I could possibly need. Money is such a difficult topic to discuss in America. People feel really uncomfortable. How do you bring light to a subject without making people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed? I just think the opportunity gap between the way I was raised and the way many other people were raised is so different. There’s a lot of kids at my school who people call “red-necks” because they dress in Carhartts and work clothes and they aren’t super intellectually-inclined. Really most of them just don’t have as much money as other kids for art classes or other enriching activities and that’s affected them and the way that people view them- and though maybe people say they don’t “look down on” poor kids, but lots of people look down on and talk

Caroline Kimble

3 Responses to “#3: So many social justice issues!

  • Great to have a glimpse into you thinking in this post Caroline. I can see that you care deeply, and that you are weighing in on several key ideas, which are seemingly equally important issues that all require loads of people to sort out. Even though you listed them with equal importance, the one where I sensed passion, and perhaps a deep connection was your first idea.

    I too have wondered, as I drive by different places of worship, exactly what you questioned: ” if despite differing opinions they will still be able to function as a community and work together in ways they could in the past.” Church community has often been the backbone of towns, and this is perhaps more true in our rural state than most urban areas. On Sundays whole towns came together to pray, to understand, to commune, and in the process their bonds grew stronger. But how is it now? Are people disinclined to attend if the preacher is not speaking the truth the congregation feels, or visa-versa? Even the very nature and purpose of “the church” may be in question. I appreciate how you see yourself as part of this conversation already, as a active member of a church community, and yet you have questions. This seems like a good starting point.

    Whichever of the three you decide on, I am certain you will seek with compassion, and caring, for this small world we are part of, and I thank you for that. So, which will it be? Ready to dig-in somewhere?

  • Lillian Reeves
    3 years ago

    Wow Caroline.
    These are another set of compelling and timely topics to look at. I really like that you are interested in how the church is responding to or pushing back against some of the biggest social issues of the 21st century. I think like you mentioned, there are definitely a lot of young people who grew up in the church and who now are not sure what to believe because on the one hand they want to follow the teachings of their faith and on the other hand, a lot of young people are more open and accepting of the differences in their peer groups. When I was at Middlebury as an undergrad, I took a religion class and a lot of what I heard the professors talking about really riled me up and I wasn’t sure I believed what they were saying. My mom directed me to the teachings of the late Peter Gomes, who had some pretty radical ideas about acceptance, peace, and homosexuality and religion. I thought I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to be part of a faith group that so blindly discriminated against LGBTQ folks. After reading Peter Gomes, I realized that people like Peter Gomes – who was a distinguished professor of morals and a beloved minister at Harvard University — did not see the Bible as a tool to support intolerance or injustice, but rather focused a tremendous amount of energy and scholarly efforts on humanizing and democratizing religion (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/us/02gomes.html).
    Or at least that is how I have come to see his work. I think as you’ve pointed out in your post, justice work has to undertaken by the community, young people and old, sought after, coveted — and so your questions about what are the churches doing not to alienate people and what role, if any, are they playing in inviting people to the hypothetical table? Without a doubt, church has a tremendous impact on communities and even on the choices people make. Conducting research on how the church is navigating these uncertain times would be really interested. Especially because this is a community you are already a part of and you have insider knowledge of. Not only is it a community you are a part of, but it sounds like you might be feeling some of this uncertainty in your own church community. Like Moira mentions, it sounds like you are passionate about this issue.

    I think your other topics are really interesting, too. Have you read Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez or seen any of the work she has done in Vermont to protect immigrants who are living and working in Vermont without permission? Return to Sender is a really fantastic kids novel (the main characters I think are in 5th grade), set in Vermont (sounds a lot like Addison County to me!), and they are dealing with what it means to have Mexican workers without papers come to work on their Vermont dairy farm after the dad of the family has an accident and becomes unable to do the work alone. DACA definitely has a far reach across the US and young Dreamers are definitely fighting an uphill battle. I’ve been particularly surprised that my own conservative congressman, Lindsey Graham, has come out to support Dreamers and is split with Trump on how to move forward addressing immigration. This issue is much more personal for you because you have a friend who is directly impacted by these erratic decisions. Allies and advocates are needed now more than ever.

    I really look forward to seeing what you write about next. I hope you will be able to choose the topic that really speaks to you and inspires you. Your writing and thinking certainly inspires me.

    Until next time,

    Lillian

  • Hi Caroline,
    I am so sorry I am so behind on commenting and responding! I think those are all great issues that need to be solved. I also have to say, I love your approach to trying to figure things out. Very organized and well thought out. I’ve never thought about religion and social issues before, though I know there is conflict between churches and gay marriages, but I haven’t heard about climate change and abortion before. I think that would be a really interesting topic to pursue.

    Elsa

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