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Doing justice with our kids (and I’m not talking about the Naughty Step)

February 10, 2013

The other day we had the most surprising conversation over breakfast – a real gift. I guess you never can tell when is the right time to try to teach your kids about justice, you just have to roll with it and learn together…

Child 1: Dad, can we have chocolate spread on toast?

Me [improvising]: No, that’s just for the weekends

C1: Oh, OK. Well, to be honest, it’s a bit boring anyway – you know, chocolate spread. Like, we’ve had it quite a few times.

Me [this feels like a risk – don’t want to be too heavy – but let’s go for it]: Boring? You know the people I met in Uganda last year? They often had exactly the same meal every single day.

C1: Really?

Me: Yes. Cassava – a sweet potato just peeled and boiled, with nothing else. Every single day.

Child 2: Can’t we buy them some  food?

Me: Er, not really. I mean, which is better – to give people some food or to help them grow a farming business and feed themselves?

C1 & 2: To help them feed themselves.

Me: Exactly, and that’s what we do with Tearfund. Actually, come to think of it there is a protest coming up about making sure there’s more food for people.

C1 & 2 [with surprising zeal]: A protest?! Really?

Me: Yes, we’re going to try to get countries to be generous and to change laws so that people have more food to eat. Do you want to be involved?

C1: Yes!

Me: I suppose we could go down to London and protest as a family?

C1 & 2: Awesome!

C1: I could make a banner…and we could march on 10 Downing St!

Me [concerned]: Now, we won’t be marching on 10 Downing St. But if there’s enough of us, we could make a difference. We’d need to make some noise.

C1: We could take some instruments down. And I could get school to help. Dad, can I write to our headteacher?


And so it went. The headteacher looks like she’s on board. The kids have got passionate about the IF campaign (please join in). A little breakfast, a little knowledge, a little enthusiasm from the kids and the willingness to do something together…and maybe God will do some justice in our midst!

[This post will also appear on Consumer Detox blog, where this year there is another chance to revisit the daily Lent blog, Detox group notes and five Consumer Detox talks]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane Currell permalink
    February 21, 2013 8:31 am

    I am beginning to dream…of a post-materialism church. Of a church that turns and learns to live simply and without exploitation of others; showing the nation how we can be if we turn away from gathering stuff and endless activities and learn to be content with what we have and spend time on relationships. I am trying to imagine how else it might look and to believe that we can come out the other side of all our consumerism…how do you ‘see’ it?

  2. Mark permalink*
    March 6, 2013 3:58 pm

    HI Jane!

    Yes, that’s a dream I share. Having said that, someone challenged me recently by suggesting that consumerism exists not because the church isn’t ‘simple’ enough but because it isn’t being the church. When the church makes disciples who put Jesus above other idols, love one another recklessly and reach out boldly to a lost and needy world, consumerism (at least in its worst aspects) tends to get a kicking.

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