Not all the people in our communities and nation have the same access to education, healthcare, and justice. This week’s SPIRIT spotlights Appalachia and the effects of mountaintop mining. The song “Sea Change” asks us why are we closing our eyes to the plight of people in our midst who are poor when we are all in this world together.
Key lines: So where will we go when the waters threaten to wash us away? / And all of our sons and our daughters wilt in the heat of the day? / I feel the sun draw nearer, I feel the sea start to rise / Who’s looking back in the mirror? Why are they closing —Why are they closing their eyes? / …Why are we closing our eyes?
Questions: When have you closed your eyes to a problem in your community or school? When have you opened your eyes to a problem? What did you learn or do about it? What duties does government have for the people it serves? How do you balance serving God and following the laws of our country? What issues make you struggle to answer?
“Without roots in the people, no government can avail, much less when it wants to impose its program through bloodshed and sorrow.” In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated not long after he spoke these words. Romero challenged his government to end the violence that was sweeping through his country and killing his people. He refused to be silent about the injustice that was affecting the poorer classes of El Salvador. The song “Believer” is about recognizing the pain that injustice causes and using it as a force to bring about personal and social change.
Key Lines: First things first / I’ma say all the words inside my head / I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh-ooh / The way that things have been, oh-ooh / …Singing from heartache from the pain / Take up my message from the veins / Speaking my lesson from the brain / Seeing the beauty through the… / Pain!
Questions: Who do you see standing up injustice to people who are poor? What examples of injustice do you see in our society? How can you take a stand against them?
It isn’t easy to see the poverty in our own backyards if we are not living in it. People living without what they need don’t want us to see what is happening. Most of us want to help if we do see others, especially young people our own age, in tough situations. We serve God when we serve our neighbors. Some people have the means to donate money; other people donate time and talents. This week’s SPIRIT explores service and ways to put our faith into action. The song “In The Name Of Love” is a powerful song about what it means to be called to a higher purpose or cause. It’s also a challenge to move us into action.
Key Lines: I wanna testify / Scream in the holy light / You bring me back to life / And it ’s all in the name of love
Questions: Where do you see people living in poverty in your community? What are some ways you can serve in your local community? When have you felt called to a higher purpose?
This week’s Spirit focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we have in common with people who hold different beliefs, come from different cultures, and have life experiences unlike our own. We live in a global world with social media and the internet at our fingertips. We need to learn how to build bridges between ourselves and so many kinds of different others. Lady Gaga’s song “Million Reasons” explores the desire to walk away from someone but acknowledges one reason to stay that overcomes all the others: love.
Key Lyrics: When I bow down to pray / I try to make the worst seem better / Lord, show me the way / To cut through all his worn out leather / I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away / But baby, I just need one good one, good one / Tell me that you’ll be the good one, good one / Baby, I just need one good one to stay
Questions: When have you been in conflict or felt frustration with someone from a different background? How might you learn what you have in common? How does listening to others’ stories help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?
As of 2013, roughly 65 million children (over half of them girls) were unable to continue school beyond an elementary grade level. This is especially common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the girls in these countries are actually expected to get married and start families at very young ages. Schools like the Kenya Girls Soccer Academy aim to help girls to finish their education, which will then allow them to get jobs that will hopefully raise them out of poverty. These schools also create a support system for the girls and encourage them to be more confident in themselves and their capabilities. Pink’s song blazes forth with self-empowerment and strength. It emphasizes the power confidence can give anyone to break through barriers and change their community and the world.
Key Lyrics: Just like fire, burning out the way / If I can light the world up for just one day / Watch this madness, colorful charade / No one can be just like me anyway / Just like magic, I’ll be flying free
Questions: Who is a female role model in your life? In what ways is she strong? What has she had to overcome? What is education important?
This week’s Spirit focuses on Jesus’ message that we are all sacred no matter who we are or what our circumstances may be. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes we make decisions that don’t work out. It’s important to remember that people who suffer from natural disasters, poverty, or lack of education are no less sacred than someone who lives in a fancy house, has a good job, or great education. Catholic social teaching stresses that we are ALL important in the eyes of God and it is our duty to remedy the injustices others may be going through.
Key Lyrics: So wait for me, I swear I’ll find you / Climbing every wall that hides you / I know we were meant for something better / So wait for me, the world is changing / Underneath the ground is shaking / You and I were meant for something better
Questions: Catholic Relief Services is a great example of putting the principles of Catholic social teaching into action. What other groups follow these teachings? Who do you know in your own life that embodies these teachings? What does the idea of putting your faith in action mean to you?
How can high school students fulfill the duty of promoting the basic rights of others?
Here are two resources to get you started.
Visit Poverty USA, a website of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Do their Tour Poverty USA, exploring the monthly budget of a poor family. Find your state on their Poverty Map.
Visit Pax Christi USA to learn how this national Catholic organization is “working for peace with justice.”
You can also follow Pax Christi on Facebook.
What do you think causes poverty? What are the poorest cities, counties, and states? How can you help?