By Charlyn Spiering
The first thing I want to address is: Do I have the authority to speak in these areas? That depends. I am not an astronomer, or a psychologist, or a statistician. What I am is a person who, like many of you, is very interested in making some kind of difference in this world. More than that, however, I want to know what solutions get to the root of the problem. I know that sometimes the best solutions come from people who aren’t steeped in professional jargon.
Also, more specifically, I am a person who has done a lot of volunteering, and working for causes I care about. I have served meals in soup kitchens, gone on inner city mission trips, and counseled women at a crisis pregnancy center. I have worked as the donations manager/work study supervisor at a big city homeless shelter. I have been a foster parent and a guardian ad litem with foster care, and I have volunteered at local urban gardens. Each time I looked at these activities I analyzed how much my role was really addressing the root problem. Sometimes my conclusion was the activity was doing more to help me feel less guilty about being a middle class white girl than it was gaining ground on any significant long-term goal.
As far as my day-to-day life, I am a substitute teacher, and a full time homeschool mom to my four kids. I dabble in flow arts like poi and staff as a member of our informal, but awesome family circus. For fun our family likes to go to the motocross track together. I also run, even when no one is chasing me.
So while I don’t have a paper with PHD printed on it, I can say that I am a committed autodidact who believes that solutions are very often not presented within pretty boxes and inside comfortable lines. I think the truth is we may find the most effective solution is just not the thing we want to do. The solution may not come with a flight to a third world country, or a ticket to a fundraiser Gala. It may be unglamorous, unacknowledged work. But it may make a big different to our generation and the next, and maybe when we boil down the facts we can discover those solutions together. I hope you take these posts and the questions that follow and sit down with your friends, church groups and Meetup groups to discuss them, not in terms you know, but in utopian terms of a world yet unknown, then take the first step in getting us there.