Backyard to the Universe
Small Group Ministries
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
We are fair and kind to others. We help to make the world a better place for everyone.
Opening Words/Lighting Candle/chalice The Flaming Chalice:
The flaming chalice is a flame burning the holy oil of helpfulness and sacrifice--spreading warmth and light and hope. The chalice has been a symbol of liberal religion since the fifteenth century, dating to John Hus in Transylvania.
Hans Deutsch was an Austrian refugee who lived in Paris until France was invaded in 1940. He had worked in many European countries as a musician, drafter, and portrait artist. Having contributed many cartoons with unflattering content (about Nazism) to several newspapers in Vienna, he fled Paris and finally settled in Portugal where he joined the staff of the Unitarian Service Committee for six months as secretary and assistant to Dr. Charles E. Joy, executive director of the USC.
Dr. Joy felt that this new, unknown organization needed a visual image to represent Unitarianism to the world, especially when dealing with government agencies abroad.
He asked his new assistant to work in his spare time on designing a symbol for the Committee to use. The result was the Flaming Chalice that grew out of social action and to be adopted by the Unitarian Service Committee in 1941.
Check-in: How are things going for you today?
How have or how could we involve our children in social action?
How do we grasp the significance of social action on the ‘receivers’? How do we help children to understand why a social justice issue is important?
Within Unitarian Universalism, social action is being called “Faith in Action.” How does involvement in social action enhance our spiritual journey?
There are numerous ‘causes’ that come to our attention.
What criteria do you use in determining which ones to support with your resources?
How do the Unitarian Universalist principles or affirmations apply in making choices?
It is Thanksgiving and an eight-year-old had not cleaned her plate. I heard my son say, "Laura, clean your plate. Think of all the starving children in the world." Laura steadily asserted that there were no longer starving children in the world. Everyone "jumped down her throat," as we say. She adamantly replied, "Uncle Walter, you don't understand. My class sent them a care package last week." Dorothy Spoerl
Likes and Wishes: How was the session for you?
Sometimes we tend to think of social action only in terms of social service projects, but I suggest that we think about four different types of social action.
Social education, or helping people to understand social issues. Social education can include both learning about a particular social issue and teaching others about an issue.
Social witness, or publicly expressing your personal convictions about a particular issue. Social witness can range from letters to the editor, to participating in rallies and marches, to getting arrested as a public statement of your views.
Social service, or providing direct services to those who are in need. It is this type of social action in which we most often ask kids to get involved: we ask kids to work in a soup kitchen, or to raise money for a good cause.
Direct action, where you attempt to affect the decision-making process. Examples of this type of social action might include writing letters for Amnesty International, contacting elected representatives, and even engaging in civil disobedience.
Any time we do social action with young people we should start with social education. For example, your family wants to serve dinner to homeless people on Thanksgiving Day. The first step is to learn something about homeless shelters. Some preliminary questions you might try to answer in this example are: What do homeless shelters look like? Who works there? How many homeless people use the homeless shelter? Maybe you could arrange to visit a homeless shelter as a part of this learning process.
Then you might ask some harder questions together: Is it OK to give money to homeless people when we walk down city streets? Why do people become homeless? What experiences of homelessness have people we know had? What are the best ways to help homeless people?
You should ask that last question any time you're planning to do social action: What's the best way we can help? In the example, even though you started out wanting to serve dinner at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, maybe as a part of your social education you discover that everybody wants to serve dinner at the shelter on Thanksgiving Day, but the shelter really needs people who will contact elected representatives on a regular basis, and that sounds just as interesting. Any social action project should provide a good match between the needs of the people we're trying to help and our own abilities and interests.
There are two other questions you will want to consider as you plan your social action project. First, is a given project appropriate for young people? Kids need (and want) projects they can understand, and projects where they can see an end result. Second, is a given project really going to contribute to a long-term effort, or is it just another "band-aid" project? Ideally, we want to find social action projects that are real and meaningful. You can answer both these questions by starting off your project with social education.
Zidowecki, January 2006