School children often learn about historical figures who change their country through their fight against injustice. Mathatma Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, Nellie Bly, Tommy Douglas.
Many figures throughout history who have fought against injustice acted out of a deep sense of spiritual direction. They were compelled, so to speak.
Some of those who are children now will grow up to be agents of transformation.
They may not all get written up in the history books of tomorrow, but they can all make a difference in the world around them– in ways both big and small. How can we help them discover the ways God may be calling them to make a difference in their world?
In your context, what opportunities do you see?
- When the child is upset by a particular injustice, I discuss risks and rewards of involvement in the cause.
- I encourage the child to read biographies of historical figures they admire for standing against injustice.
- The child could take part in some local push for change.
- I can model responsible social involvement, such as volunteering, recycling, voting, and being aware of current events.
- When I see the child make a positive difference in their environment– even in a small way– I highlight it and praise them for it.
For one grandmother, it looked like this:
I live in an older neighborhood that has become increasingly run down and dangerous over the years. We used to have a large store nearby, but it got torn down and became an empty lot that was seeing more and more gang activity.
Some of us who have lived here for years planned a meeting to talk about what could be done, and my 16-year-old grandson happened to be visiting when the time for the meeting came around. He tagged along with me, bringing his iPhone so he’d have something to do.
But I noticed during the course of the meeting that he was texting less and listening more.
Based on what he heard, he decided to get involved in bringing change to the neighborhood. He helped clean up the empty lot. He contacted the city councilman for our district to ask for funds to make the area into a small park. He even volunteered with an organization that moved into the area to provide a safe place for kids to hang out after school.
He jokes and tells me that he’s just doing it because it will look good on college applications, but I know better. He knows now that his actions can make a difference– he’s caught the bug for community activism.