I recently received a copy of the summer CONSP!RE Magazine, in which I have an article. It’s a brief article about working with a group called Food Not Bombs. If you want to get a print copy you can find out where to pick them up here (they’re free!).
Here’s the article:
Feast Of Fools
Several years ago, I started hanging out with a group of folks called Food Not Bombs, an international revolutionary movement “sharing free vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty.” We redeemed food from the excess trash of our consumer culture, and made delicious stews, pastas, and sandwiches. Then, each Sunday, we’d host a party in the park, potluck style, for everyone. It was a beautiful snapshot of what the kingdom of God might look like.
I attended church on Sunday mornings, and then help out with Food Not Bombs. I regularly invited people from church to come and help out, seeing this as a perfect opportunity to live out the faith we talked and prayed about. Unfortunately, I’ve had no takers. They invariably would opt to go eat at a restaurant instead.
Strange: I had been looking around for people who were living out the words of Jesus and actually caring for the “least of these,” and I found it in a bunch of people who wanted nothing to do with church. Who are the Christ followers? The ones who wake up on Sunday and gather to talk about Jesus? Or the ones who never mention his name yet enact what he called his disciples to do?
As you might have noticed, I’ve been posting a lot less on this blog in the last month or so. This is partially due to reasons I mentioned last week, and also partially due to my own efforts to slow down a little bit. I’ve said in the past that the main reason I tend to blog as much as I do is that I often have a great many things bouncing around in my head and writing has been therapeutic for me, blogging in turn has allowed me to get feedback on those thoughts as well. This is all still quite true, but I’ve also started questioning the value of letting my mind wander down so many rabbit trails at once. In some ways, I think it’s just part of who I am, and at other times I think I’d be much more productive or just ‘present’ if I could focus my thoughts and energy on one thing or project at a time, rather then several.
I’m not sure what that will mean for the dynamics of this blog, nor even myself really, but I’d like to make an effort at it. I think I hit information overload at some point and just felt the need to start ignoring or taking a break from things. And much of this is internet driven, it’s a thousand times easier to jump from thing to thing online then while reading a book on the couch or sitting with your kids on the playground. I’m just figuring these things out myself.
How about you?
It’s a question we get asked frequently when we meet new people, I’ve probably been asked it several times in my life and didn’t think much about it, but since becoming the primary at-home* care taker the question, and my answers, seem to have a bigger impact on me then before.
It took me a while, but I usually have the confidence to answer with “I take care of my kids”, without immediately following or preceding it with “I’m a freelance writer and web-designer” or some other long winded attempt to prove my productivity or contributions to society. I don’t think this is unique to at home Dad’s, but I think guys who stay with the kids do experience unique pressures, or at least I feel pressure from certain gender roles and expectations (I might write more on this later).
The reason I’m bringing this up now, I think, is that I want to state publicly that I want my primary answer to continue to be centered around my kids. We as a family have recently negotiated some set aside dedicated time for me to pursue projects, opportunities to set up meetings and do somethings outside of nap times and late nights. This wasn’t a financial decision, nor an “Ariah needs to get out and do something with his life” sorta of move, rather just a loving supportive spouse encouraging me to pursue things I’m passionate about. And as excited as I am about taking a bit of time each week to pursue these things, I don’t want it to get in the way of being dad.
This is sort of a rambling post, for which I apologize. It’s interesting that I find it hard to write about family and parenting stuff. That’s the important stuff, the truly important stuff to me, and I find it the most difficult to share in public spaces like a blog. I can write with passion about social issues and injustices, but sharing my lessons in parenting seems so difficult at times.
I’ll end it here. All I really wanted to say is that the primary thing I “do” is that I’m a dad. Everything else is secondary. And I’m proud of that.
*It has to be said that 1) my wife is most definitely a “primary” care taker as well, taking care of our kids and taking care of people’s health and well being as a nurse practitioner day in and out [love you, babe] and 2) we aren’t really “at-home” much if we can help it, but “primary at-home-or-the-park-library-pool-garden-bike ride-beach-porch-grocery store-community event-neighbors care taker” was too long.
I’ve posted this same brief post for the past few years around this time, in hopes of drumming up a bit of discussion regarding this national holiday. About five years ago I was reading the paper in a small town in Minnesota. I read an article by Congressman Mark Kennedy entitled: “The Great Experiment” which discussed the sacrifices many soldiers had made to make this country what it is today. I did not disagree with his article, I simply felt that he’d left some other important people and groups out. I felt the need to reply in this letter to the editor that you see below. I’ve left it unedited, but I’ll include further thoughts at the end. Surprisingly, the local paper published my letter the following week:
The Failing Experiment
I want to first of all thank Congressman Mark Kennedy for his article concerning this country’s “Independence Day.” There is certainly room for celebration and many of the historical facts he pointed out are worth noting and esteeming. Unfortunately I fear Congressman Kennedy missed out on the whole picture of the American Experiment and I feel the need to complete, or at least add to his summary.
It is true our Experiment has succeeded because of sacrifice, but whose sacrifice? Let us not forget the genocide of the Native Americans – from whom we took and still keep this land. They sacrificed many lives to our “Manifest Destiny.” Even today the effects of this sacrifice are felt and if you dare look, they are still seen. Our brothers and sisters of the human race live on small, infertile plots of land that we’ve forced them to, and the effects of injustice for hundreds of years can be seen clearly today. The Native Americans sacrificed.
Let us remember that the fourth of July is Independence for only part of the citizens of this country. It wasn’t until December 1865 that the denial of freedom (slavery) was abolished by law in this country. And we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that this is a reality today. It takes only a brief look at the statistics to see that even since the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, we are still discriminating against people because of their skin (look up red-lining, the education system, and the demographic layout of most cities). It was on the backs of our brothers and sisters of the human race from Africa that this country began to thrive. It was their sacrifice for which they currently still have never reaped full benefits.
They sacrificed as soldiers too, Africans, Mexicans, Japanese, Native Americans – only to return to a “free” nation where they were discriminated against and treated as less than human. Remember the sacrifice of the American citizens of Japanese decent forced into Internment camps in the Desert. Remember the replacement of slaves with sharecropping and cheap labor from Mexico which we discriminate against yet desperately “need” in order to keep our way of living “affordable” for us.
There are many more groups that have been sacrificed to this American Experiment, but only one more I will note in this summary. They are half the population and for years have fed, clothed, cleaned, and cared for generations of American men. Women, they celebrate their independence on August 26, 1920 when the law at least extended to them the vote. They, like these many other groups, are still fighting for the freedom we will celebrate July 4th.
Celebrate your freedom on Sunday, but open your eyes to reality. Freedom even in America is only for the privileged, unless we choose to make it for everybody. Freedom will never come at the barrel of a gun. It will take sacrifice, sacrifice from you and me, not our lives, but our love. Will you sacrifice with love for that freedom you so enjoy to be extended to all people?
I hope, at the very least, that this at least reminds us to reflect somberly on this holiday. I don’t mean to belittle the decisions of so many soldiers who have risked their lives, but I also recognize that is not a complete picture of our history. Also, to those who are bothered by my dissent, let me also remind you that the fourth of July is a celebration of an act of treason, and in some sense (from a historically British perspective) a completely unpatriotic event. I’m not saying my critique is on par with the Declaration of Independence or anything, just that a nation founded on this type of act should keep an open ear to those who speak critically of it.
(For an interesting discussion, check out last years comment thread)