first world parenting

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I've been watching my friends' facebook statuses (stati?) update all week with the start of their homeschooling year and the start of the public school year. Yesterday, I read another article about the famine in the Horn of Africa. Then I read yet another article about the poverty that people are living in here in the United States, and I thought about what a life of privilege I am leading. What luxury we have to spend our time debating whether or not to work or stay at home. Whether or not to send our kids to public or private school. Whether to home-school. Whether to pack lunches or purchase them at school. Privilege.

What am I teaching my children about this? We might live lives of relative privilege, but we don't have the wherewithal to take them to a third world country and expose them to true poverty. We definitely don't try to point out the people living in poverty in our own community. We live, work, go to school with people in literal poverty. I don't want my kids to think of themselves as privileged, in the sense of better than. I do want them to know that we are fortunate. That other people do not live like us. I want them to see the pictures of the people starving in Africa. I want them to hear the stories of the desperation that drives immigrants to undertake an often deadly journey to our country or to wait ten years for a visa to go through. I want them to open their eyes to see the kids around them who are homeless, whose parents are addicts, who are struggling to make ends meet, who can never pack their lunch for school because it's too expensive. However, I want this all to happen while still helping them maintain their humility, their compassion, their empathy, their Christlike-ness rather than teaching them about the 'poor people' and how we should help them be better or richer or whatever.

I can't say that I exactly know how to do this. It's painful and difficult to think about - to know my life of privilege while seeing the abject poverty, disease, death, famine, and sword that makes up the reality of so many others. So I pray. I pray for my children. I pray for their children. I pray that God will visit us, in our privilege and in our poverty, in our health and in our sickness, in our public schools, in our subsidized housing, under the bridges, and in our 3000 square foot homes.

"Come, come and meet us here
Come and touch our tears
And we will weep no more
Come, come and meet our pain
Come and lift our lame
And we will limp no more
Come and we will want no more...
God, won't You come by here?"
(Come By Here by Shaun Groves)

I've had this album for a little while now, and it is just incredible. It speaks to my soul in an almost tangible way. The prayers of this album are the prayers of my heart today. It comes out next week online, and I encourage you to buy it.

Shaun Groves - Third World Symphony (Ethiopia Story) from Shaun Groves on Vimeo.

You can listen to the whole album here:
Third World Symphony
Third World Symphony

And you can buy it here:
Shaun Groves online store

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