Where’s The Line?

The children and I have been looking for social justice/volunteer opportunities that fit our personalities and time. After gathering suggestions from various folks, we settled on two ongoing roles that we will all feel comfortable participating in.

Open Table Nashville is one of the non-profits we’ll be supporting with our time and talent for bed making.

This is very similar to the offering we support through our church. The children and I will be setting up the space for the un-housed to sleep safely. Beds, tables, etc.

The second volunteering decision we made was to support an outreach program through Catholic Charities. We had several choices with them and we decided that putting together “Welcome Home” baskets to be given to families transitioning from homelessness into homes would be the task that most resonated with us.

The children and I had a lovely time this afternoon packing up the supplies we had already purchased into the new wastebasket and deciding how to spend the leftover money. After some great discussion and a little tension around who liked which sheet colors and why, we picked out a handsome microwave and some comfy, cozy sheets to go with this first “basket” of our creation.

The “line” referenced in the title comes from a discussion Buds and I had last night. We needed to reach consensus on what our family could afford to donate for each of these welcome baskets, and I’d had an idea bubbling inside all day that I wanted to talk through with Buds. I was pondering if Catholic Charities was an organization we should be giving our time and donations to.

Catholic Charities here in Nashville is doing great work. Their offerings for the refugee and immigrant populations are inspiring. Their website is very clear that they offer their services because they are Catholic, not because recipients need to be Catholic. That was critical for us; but we do have grave reservations about Catholicism and many, many of its aspects. Birth control and and abortion are only two of the issues that come to mind.

Where is that line? When is the good works enough of a counter-balance to some of the horrific ideas they spread? To be clear, I’m not judging those who are Catholic. Every organized group has good and bad aspects. I’m proud to be a Unitarian Universalist, but our history is filled with extensive stains of inhumane treatment.

I’ve been kicking this ball around with a couple friends and general consensus seems to be that the good work being done locally by this particular group is something we can feel good about supporting. Supporting local homeless folks or formerly homeless families who so desperately need help is a tremendous blessing to us.

Obviously, if the local neo-nazi group runs a can drive for the local food pantry, they can kiss off. There’s a line for when local good isn’t enough. And each family needs to decide that line for themselves.

I am still pondering this on a larger scale. Where our money goes does matter, and how much time, thought, and effort should I put into figuring out how we are invested? What sort of policies does Starbucks have? Is Aldi’s actually a good company? What do the Koch brothers actually own and can I not give them any money at all?

And then my mind wanders to the other end of the spectrum. Monkey and Buds are both actively supporting creators and artist through Patreon. How fantastic is this?! When your teen decides to use some of her allowance to support work being done by people she has learned from and finds interesting and motivating, that’s a new world order.

Lots of ideas to toss around. We’ll keep working to lighten the load of folks who need a hand and work toward the day when homeless shelters disappear because there is no one to sleep in them.

Comfy beds ready to go.

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