Published in Geez: On Raising Activist Children
So, I’m excited to have another published piece in Geez Magazine. Here’s the article (you’ll have to get your own copy if you want to see it in print)…
On Raising Activist Children
I want to raise my children valuing the importance of relationship and community.
I want them to see giving as far more enjoyable and valuable then receiving (yes, even at Christmas time).
I want my children to know, and lend me insight, into the paradoxes of Jesus’ teachings: Love your enemies, deny yourself, seek first the kingdom, faith like a child in a kingdom like a mustard seed.
I want my kids to know that there are better uses of your time then comatose entertainment and that more toys won’t make you more happy.
I want them to know that following Jesus is much more about hanging out in the park with the homeless and having banquets for the needy, than it is about going to a building to sing songs and eating out on Sunday with people that all look and act the same.
I want my kids to know that worship includes planting gardens and giving food, clothes and shelter to others.
I want them to know that we bike because it’s fun, and it’s taking good care of this lovely planet God gave us.
I want my kids to know the importance of wearing clothes and eating food that was prepared justly and not by a child their age in a sweatshop.
I want my kids to know that God will care for their needs, but that it is more important to live simply so that others might simply live.
I want my kids to have fun, playing at the park, reading books at the library, going on adventures all over town, building castles out of refrigerator boxes, redeeming others trash into tree forts.
Afterword (one year later)
It’s been a little over one year since we’ve begun to explore the world in a new light as we chase our little daughter wherever her feet will take her. One year isn’t really a definitive point at which to declare victory, but we’ve found small bits of encouragement as we look back and continue to look forward. Our daughter is as likely to wave at the disheveled drunk man on the bus as she is to pat on the back the nuns who live a few houses down. Her only fascination with televisions and computer screens is the ability to turn them off (and on, and off, and on, and off). She enjoys picking tomatoes in the garden, though she hasn’t learned what’s ripe – which brings us so much joy since they are from our backyard or the community gardens in the neighborhood. She’s spent much more time traveling in strollers, backpacks, and bike carriers than riding in her car-seat – the only down-side of which is that she tends to be squirmy and unhappy when we have to strap her into it. Our little girl is going to grow up in a community that is as culturally diverse as possible, given that we live in Minnesota, and she is going to have a much easier time spotting the oppressive structures of poverty and racism than we who have grown up oblivious to our privilege since we don’t know anyone adversely affected by it. So really, even though there is so much more to do; even though we could dwell on where we fall short in our abilities to be at protests and attempts to stop world-hunger, hopefully we are changing not just ourselves, but the whole world just one little girl at a time.
(Published in Geez Magazine, Issue 12, The what-is-commonly-referred-to-as Activism Issue, Winter 2008)