There's been a quote floating around the internet this past week that I love. I can't find an original source, but it's along the lines of "build a longer table, not a higher fence."
I think it's safe to say that tension and emotion are high in our country after the first week of President Trump's presidency. I don't want to get into political views too much here - mostly because I don't feel well-informed or articulate enough to discuss my own - but I will say that the events and the media coverage has left me confused, burdened, world weary and most of all, questioning. Questioning how I and my family can make a difference that lasts. Questioning what we can do, right now, with our current resources of money and time, to "build a longer table." Questioning how I can raise children that are inclusive, loving, generous and kind. Questioning, what are some practical things we can start today to create a better and more loving world? After discussing it at length with my husband and close friends over the past few days, and doing some reading and researching, here is my list. Some are short-term, some have to do specifically with the recent executive orders, and others are more general and widespread. It's certainly not an exhaustive list, and I'd love to hear more ideas for how you or your family are living out love for your neighbor, both here and abroad!
our family is going to work at living out love by:
- Contacting our local representatives to express our disappointment with the executive orders (I found out how to do this with a simple google search - "how to contact my state representative")
- Reading books by diverse authors
- Investing in children's books that celebrate diversity (here's a quick list I found online)
- Donating to organizations overseas who are meeting the everyday needs of refugees (two good options are the IRC and Preemptive Love Coalition)
- Getting involved with the refugee crisis right here at home. Although the recent executive order bars additional refugees from coming to the US, there are thousands already in the country who need help. I found a local organization to contact (Exodus Refugee, for those in Indianapolis, accepts donations both monetary and of supplies, and also needs volunteers. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis also has a refugee aid program and accepts volunteers and donations.) but you could likely find information on organizations in your own area by searching "how to help refugees in ___ (insert your town)___"
- Reading news from non-American news sources to get a more global view
- Praying specifically and intentionally for peace, as well as our nation's leaders. A novena is a great way to do this, as well as invoking the intercession of St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians, and Our Lady Queen of Peace. I also love the Val Marie Paper prayer journal, because it has a section specifically for national and world prayers, which has helped me pray more intentionally in this area.
- Inviting international students into your home for a meal (I'm researching how to go about this!)
- Volunteering in our local community - food handouts, community clean-up, anything!
- Making food pantry donations for our church a regular part of our grocery shopping list
- Planning travel to places that will help us better understand the world, and humanity, as a whole (a friend highly recommends The Village Experience trips!)
- Continuing to shop ethically and keep our possessions minimal, to decrease the demand (however minutely) for slave labor around the world
- Attending Mass in Spanish and participating in the hispanic celebrations at our church
I'm continuing to pray that the Lord opens my eyes to more opportunities to truly live out this calling to be His hands and feet, that He helps me fight my fear and choose action instead of mere words. That I wouldn't stop at social media activism, but would use the gifts, talents and opportunities He's given me to build His kingdom here on earth. Today, I'm placing my focus on the incredible blessing and opportunity I have in motherhood. As my friend Erin said on instagram yesterday, " I want kids who are willing to love bravely, know what Jesus says, and to fight fiercely for the things that matter. We've got a lot of work to do, and mine starts at home."
Here's to living out a Christ-like love that ignites our hearts, changes our homes and spreads to the whole wide world. XO.