Posted tagged ‘world hunger’

Seventh Grade Social Responsibility

April 19, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            April 19, 2017

                                 

In my substitute teaching experiences I’ve recently been teaching in the “Portable Village”, a series of four classrooms outside of Timberview Middle School in Colorado Springs. I’ve worked my way down the classroom line, starting with math last week and following it up the next day with science, and then teaching social studies yesterday, and in line to finish the classroom course with Language Arts next Tuesday.

The Social Studies class I taught yesterday is the same class I did the January long-term substitute position for. I’ve gotten to know these 125 students of “Portable Village”, and enjoy them immensely!

Yesterday my assignment was to show part of a video that dealt with world poverty and possible solutions to it. In the midst of the video I was to stop and get into some discussion about our understanding of what poverty is and looks like. All four classes I taught had incredible discussions. (It also looked impressive when the assistant principal walked in and the class was quietly engaged in the discussion. What a miracle! A classroom of seventh graders quiet for a substitute teacher!)

All of the students were aware of poverty, locally and worldwide. A few of them had encountered poverty first-hand through church mission trips to distant lands, and one student who had recently moved to Colorado Springs from Uganda had experienced poverty first-hand in his family. Hopefully he will teach his classmates about the effects and struggles of poverty.

The struggle I sensed in the midst of these students is the “tipping point”…knowing about the issue and being concerned about it compared to knowing about it and being committed to being a part of the solution of it! What will cause them to tip to the side of commitment?

Unfortunately, the older generations of our society have frequently modeled behavior and attitudes that communicate life purposes of accumulation and being self-absorbed. We are elated to be in America, and separated geographically and life style-wise from the poverty of the world. I sit on my Starbucks stool as I write this, recognizing that the two dollar cup of coffee I’m sipping costs more than a vast number of people in the world will have to feed their families with today. A few minutes ago a mom pulled up in her Expedition, ran in, grabbed her mobile order of four $5.00 drinks and four pastries, which she handed out to her kids in the back seat. Doing the calculation I figured she had just willingly shelled out $35.00 for minimal nutrition. I make that judgment and then realize that I’m about twenty pounds overweight myself!

The challenge will be to bring this group of seventh graders, as well as other students around their age, to the point that they willingly want to make a difference…without injecting Baptist guilt into the equation or catchy gimmicks or celebrity endorsements. Part of the solution, in my belief system, is spiritual. Followers of Jesus are called to care with more than distant sympathy. I come from a tradition (Baptist) that emphasizes personal salvation through a relationship with Christ while we gorge ourselves at church potlucks. Having social responsibility has not been as important as having enough casseroles for people to feast upon. We talk about poverty and hunger even less than we do about tithing.

But maybe this group of seventh graders will glean some things from the new boy from Uganda that will allow them to take a step in a responsible direction! Maybe, just maybe!

Telling Laughter

October 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       October 25, 2013

 

                                          

 

I admit it! My prejudice shows as I listen to someone’s laughter. Laughter to me is the telling sign of who a person is. It conveys warmth and character, but to me it also reveals arrogance and a darkened spirit.

There is good laughter and there is evil laughter, sinister snicker if you will. There is laughter that brightens the darkest room and laughter that darkens the brightest room.

I was watching an interview the other night on CNN. Piers Morgan was interviewing Warren Buffett, his son Howard, and grandson Howard W. Buffett. I don’t often sit down and watch an hour-long interview on television, but I found myself enthralled by the whole conversation. A big reason for my interest was the laughter of Warren and his son. Howie has that kind of laugh that reverberates through his whole body to where he looks like a wind-up toy that has been set loose. His laughter involves every body part. His dad, one of the richest men in the world, has a deep laugh that very few would associate with wealth. It’s a light-hearted chuckle that is delightful.

The main reason they were being interviewed was because of Howard’s new book that had just been released, Forty Chances: Finding Hope In A Hungry World. Howard has traveled the world seeking to help remedy the problem that very few people, let alone wealthy people, want to face…world hunger.

I went on-line that night and downloaded a copy of the book for my iPad and have started reading it. It’s very good, but what drew me into making the purchase was the laughter of the author. It was grounded and solid in tone. You can tell he is very serious about the issue, and yet he doesn’t take himself that seriously.

His laughter convinced me. His dad’s laugh seconded it. I one-clicked the purchase.

Some might think I’m really off base here, but laughter tells me more in a moment than an hour long conversation with someone. A laugh makes me like someone or want to leave like I’m being force-fed a spoonful of Castor Oil.

Jesus had a great laugh. Okay, I can’t prove that from scripture, and he certainly wasn’t laughing around the Pharisees and religious types, but gather a flock of kids and I can’t imagine Jesus not laughing. As the late Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darnedest things!”

Laughter tells me that a kid is happy. Laughter at the wrong time tells me of some deeper issues going on. Laughter at another person’s pain is grieving.

I love to laugh. Whenever I see Brandon Bayes (which has been a number of years) one of the first things I will do is mimic the laugh of a man who was a part of the same Holy Land Tour group that we were in. We will laugh at the laugh. The laughter will reconnect us to a week spent together some twenty years ago.

My dad has a great laugh. It resembles Howie Buffett’s. His whole body gets into the act. My brother-in-law, Mike, often slaps his knee as he laughs. He feels comfortable with knee-slapping light-heartedness.

My late Aunt Irene had a great laugh. It kind of came at you like a wind that was building up to a roar and then got released. My late Uncle Bernie was the “he-he” kind of chuckler. Uncle Bernie worked at his church’s food pantry into his nineties and brought a bit of levity into the lives of a number of people who were on the edge of despair. One of my former college professors, the late Ron Richards, had a laugh that warmed up the room. We needed laughter in the midst of Economics class. Economics was one of those classes that could have easily depressed me.

I realize that I’ve used the term “the late” several times in the past couple of paragraphs, but it brightens my day to know that I can remember how so many people who have proceeded on to glory sounded in the humor of life. It makes me chuckle in a pure way.