This week SPIRIT focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we can find 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. Coldplay’s song “Everyday Life” reminds us that despite our differences, we are all part of the same human family, we all share the same home. It’s important to remember that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
Key Lyrics: What in the world are we going to do? / Look at what everybody’s going through / What kind of world do you want it to be? / Am I the future or the history? / ‘Cause everyone hurts / Everyone cries / Everyone tells each other all kinds of lies / Everyone falls / Everybody dreams and doubts / Got to keep dancing when the lights go out
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 the stories of others help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?
We all experience times when we lose self-confidence and berate ourselves for not being smart enough or good looking enough, for not fitting into what social media, advertising, even our own peers, tell us is the “popular” way to look and act. These can be challenging times that affect how we see ourselves and our roles within our society. The song “Burn So Bright” is about embracing who we are and letting our light shine in spite of the people who would otherwise keep us down.
Key lines: When you fall, you’re gonna hit hard / When you love with your whole heart / Remember the hard times make ya you / That’s when we’ll show the world / They’re not gonna break us
Questions: When have you felt pressure to look or act a certain way? What are some reasons people get shunned in your school or community? Do you think these reasons are valid? When have you challenged the status quo? How have you handled bullies in your life?
This week’s Spirit is about waking up to what is happening in the world around us. It is easy to put off unpleasant issues and can be challenging to convince others of a problem we see. Maggie Rogers’ song “Alaska” is about taking a challenging path alone, sometimes without the people we love, and moving forward with our eyes wide open.
Key lines: I was walking through icy streams / That took my breath away / Moving slowly through westward water / Over glacial plains / And I walked off you / And I walked off an old me / Oh me oh my I thought it was a dream / So it seemed / And now, breathe deep
Questions: What issues or problems do you recognize in your school or community? What woke you up to the issue? How did the problem touch you? When have you been asleep to a situation or issue that mattered to others? How can you help people around you wake up to issues important to you?
The last Sunday of the liturgical year celebrates Jesus as Christ the King, who promises to judge us on whether we do the works of mercy. Catholic social teaching challenges us to these same actions. We can all take part in helping those who need food, clothing, water, shelter whether it’s donating resources or helping out at a shelter or food kitchen. When Imaginary Future sings out that “we are the love we give,” they are calling to us to look beyond ourselves and at our neighbors who may need greater support.
Key lines: This is not some one-way mirror / Looking out at the world we’re in / We are the love, we are the love we give / I’m starting to see it clearer / We belong to those who live / We are the love, we are the love we give / We are the love, we are the love we give
Questions: What economic and social issues do you recognize in your community and school? How can you help to raise awareness of these issues? When have
you needed a helping hand?
Our first impressions are often stereotypes. We make assumptions based on people’s appearance, how they talk, and how they act. We have to look beyond what our eyes see. The song “Go As You Are” reminds us to keep our eyes open to see who the people we encounter day by day really are.
Key lines: Everyone’s got a story / With no reason for all the rhyme / We fall just a few pounds of glory / I can’t justify all the time / But, go as you are / Just don’t come back the same / If you don’t get too far / You’ve got no one to blame
Questions: What stereotypes exist in your school and community? When has someone stereotyped you? How did this make you feel? When have you made an embarrassing assumption about someone? What happened as a consequence of this assumption? How did you fix it?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches us the way to love God is to love one another. It doesn’t matter who we love, what religion we adhere to, what color our skin is, where we are on the economic scale. What matters the most is that we treat each other with respect, fairness, and kindness. The song “Here For You” is a promise to always stand by each other in the face of ignorance. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to be there for each other. In doing this, we create a safe community for all.
Key lines: When you feel you’ve had enough, and you wasted all your love / I’ll be here for you, here for you / When the dog is at his bone, and you run away from home / I’ll be here for you, here for you / Well I’m here for you, I’m here for you, you, you
Questions: What types of disrespect do you see in your school, community, country? What do you think can be done to challenge people who like to exclude others? When have you showed mercy to someone who wronged you? When has someone shown you mercy?
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?
Immigration is a fiery topic today. Some people welcome immigrants; some resist others different from them. This week’s SPIRIT explores how accepting new people and cultures can benefit our communities and schools and expand our relationships with those around us. The song “One of Us” is about celebrating our differences and accepting people into our homes, communities, and lives.
Key lines: Everybody needs a place to call their home / Everybody’s skin is different, not their bones / Even when you’re lonely, know you’re not alone / You’re one of us, one of us, one of us / One of us / Bring the sunshine in / The happy days / The hardship, too / We’ll find a way / So raise your flag / One last time / Before the day is through, I promise you / That we will laugh about it all / And we’ll celebrate the things we’ve done for years to come / ‘Cause that’s what friends, that’s what friends are for
Questions: What challenges do you think immigrants face in new places? What challenges have you faced if you are an immigrant? What do you think helps ease these challenges? What have you learned from people of different cultures? Who do you notice being excluded in your community?