Written By: Carrie Nantais
Here’s where the rubber hits the road—how do we fit in ‘justice’ in the daily life of family? I’ve been reading the last few posts and wondering, ‘When is she going to tell me how to do this?!?’ Spoiler Alert: I’m not. I couldn’t even fathom beginning to try as my own experiments in justice within family life have been sporadic, unfocused and occasionally unintended. When I face a question like the one I state above, ‘How do I do that?’, I think back on a good friend from my seminary days who was helping me through another life change. She had wisely encouraged me to ‘stop looking at other people and trying to live their life. Start living your own life.’ And as I navigate family life, I realize more than ever how true this is. What works for me in choosing a schedule for childcare does NOT work for every other family… even my closest friends. So, then, with regards to justice and family, how do we choose?
Maybe my previous work experience for the Jesuits in the Upper Midwest has some small window into a method. While visiting Jesuits, their ministries and the amazing lay colleagues who worked alongside them, it was my job to find out what justice issues they were involved in and how to create momentum and synergy among and between them. It was challenging… diverse… interesting. But it was also an exercise, at times, of herding cats. In hindsight, when I was most successful, I was able to tap into WHY people chose to be engaged in the justice issues that they did—in a sense, I understood their motivation.
Instead of telling you all what is the best or right answer, maybe I can help you think about engaging justice issues as a family with some questions?
- Why is justice important to you and your family?
- What are the justice actions you liked to do prior to have children?
- What areas of family life are you most engaged in right now? (ie. school because kids are in it; sports activities and healthy living; neighborhood issues, etc)
- What are the realistic limitations given the ages of your children now? (ie. infant children who cannot walk in dirty areas; concerns of exposing young toddlers to dangerous activities such as picking up garbage where there might be drug paraphernalia, etc)
- Do you like certain organizations (like the ISN!) and can you ask them to help you think of ways to get more involved, within your limitations and experience?
After considering these questions, I have two other thoughts:
- Do you see examples of families around you that you admire and that you want to be like?
- Setting a goal often seems to help motivate action. And the goal should be attainable and relatively easy given the tremendous demands that family life already extols on parents. Can you set a goal for finding one justice activity between now and the end of 2012 for your family to engage?
No matter what the end result, entertaining the questions sows the seed for just family living. I know that my husband and I continue to struggle with how best to live out our belief that “we are called to live with justice.” Maybe some of you out there have ideas? Inspiration? Share your own starting place or end result…
Carrie Nantais is a graduate of Boston College ’00 and Boston College School of Theology and Ministry ’05 and is currently seeking a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy. She served as the assistant for social and international ministries for the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus from 2005-2011. Carrie and her husband Dave live in in midtown area of Detroit, Michigan, with their three year old son Liam.