Riches that leave another poor I do not want. — Andre Gide
IN TODAY'S SESSION...
Today we talked about the importance of fairness and justice and the necessity of taking action in the face of injustice. We heard a story about a kingdom where a greedy king hoards all the food for himself. A huge dog is brought to the kingdom and it barks continuously until all people in the kingdom are fed. We practiced being allies for justice by barking at unfair situations in a game. We experienced unfairness in the concrete example of our snack. Some children received an abundant amount of a variety of foods while others were served small portions of one food item only. Everyone took turns acting as "watchdogs for justice," barking as long as the situation remained unfair. We worked to make the situation fair and afterward talked about the experience together.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TALK ABOUT... Ask your child to tell you about our unfair snack experience. As a family, try to answer some of the following questions, being sure to include everyone, regardless of age:
- What do we have lots of that we can share with other people? This can be material goods, money, time, or talent.
- Does anyone have an example of a time when they stood up for justice?
- Does anyone have an example of a time when someone else spoke up for justice on their behalf?
- Are there any examples of injustice that we should take action on?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TRY...
A FAMILY RITUAL
For a period of a week or a month, have each family member give up something that costs money which they enjoy, but which is not necessary for general health and wellbeing. For example, give up candy, potato chips, going to the movies, buying toys, or eating out at restaurants. Set aside the money that would have been spent on this item or activity. Donate it to an organization that works for economic justice such as the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee ( www.uusc.org); the Heifer Project International (www.heifer.org); Global Envision (www.globalenvision.org); or, Kiva, a micro-lending/micro-granting organization that works internationally.
Ritualize your commitment in a ceremony. Have each person decorate a rock to represent the item or activity they are giving up. Sit in a circle and say something like, "As long as there are people in the world who do not have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, a home to live in, and access to education and medicine, all people must work for justice. In small ways we can change our lives so that others can create better lives." Have each person put their rock into a special container and state, "I will live simply that others may simply live. I promise to give up ____ for one week/month." If desired, allow each person to explain why they chose to give up that particular item or activity.
Place the container filled with rocks in a central, visible location in your home. Place a jar or piggy bank nearby and use it to collect the money you would have spent on the item or activity you have given up.
At the end of the week or month, gather again to count the money you saved and share about your experience of giving up an enjoyed activity or item. Light a candle of hope, expressing a wish or prayer for the people of the world.
A FAMILY GAME
Adopt a practice of "barking" at injustice. Let it be a family signal that something unfair has occurred. This can bring some levity and humor to a tense situation while encouraging all family members to take responsibility for bringing attention to injustice.
Learn about who shares our world with this picture book that makes population numbers visual and is informative for people of all ages:
- If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World's People by David J. Smith (Kids Can Press, 2002)
Learn about the global distribution of wealth. These books use respectful photographs from around the world to show levels of wealth as displayed in material possessions and differing food customs and expenditures:
- Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel; text by Charles C. Mann (Sierra Club Books, 1994)
- Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio (Ten Speed Press, 2005)
Learn about classism and how to oppose it, on the Class Action website.
Learn about ways to reduce world poverty through the global free market system on the website of Global Envision.
Emphasize sharing with this popular picture book about a fish that is covered in beautiful scales and learns to share them with the other fish, Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (North-South).