Monday, October 5, 2009

"Who Am I To Make a Difference?" Part 1

By Shayne Moore
Visit Shayne's Bio

My average day involves throwing on my go-to pair of jeans and quickly pulling my hair up in a pony tail. My time revolves around my three children’s school schedule, sports practices and instrument lessons. You can find me hollering at the kids to gather their sports gear as I hastily transfer a load of laundry, leaving clothes unfolded on the table. It is my job to make sure everyone has clean clothes, food to eat, and is at their respective practices on time.
In short, I’m a soccer mom. Despite my best efforts, I am leaving an enormous carbon footprint as I live out my life in the suburbs. With my babies grown it seems I now spend most of my time in the car shuttling kiddos from one activity to the next. I help with homework, supervise computer sessions, and consider it pure joy when I have time to visit with a friend.
However, as with most women who find this is what the structure of their lives looks like, there is much more to me than that. To be honest, after about a decade of being a stay-at-home mom, I found a deep dissatisfaction lurking inside me. I started to want more.

About five years ago Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2, came through my town on the Heart of America tour educating churches and faith communities about global AIDS and extreme poverty. While it was undoubtedly Bono’s star power that drew me in that night, it was the presentations by the World Health Organization on the ravishing effects of extreme poverty and the future projections of the spread of HIV and AIDS which changed the trajectory of my life.

The next day I was sobered and even angered. Today, these issues have been pushed to the front, but when I heard Bono and The Heart of America tour it was the first time I had heard the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. I could not help but wonder why aren’t we hearing about this every night on the news? Why aren’t our pastors talking about it every Sunday from the pulpit? After hearing the sobering realities of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS, particularly the effect on women and children something happened to me.

While standing at the sink doing the breakfast dishes I woke up from my suburbia stupor. I woke up to realities that every three seconds a child dies from extreme poverty and that today one billion people live on less than two dollars a day. I woke up to the realities of gender-based violence against women and girls, that women and girls are marginalized and exploited in situations of extreme poverty. And I woke up to the reality that I can make a difference and I started educating myself and others.

My journey into understanding global social justice started in my own community, in my own kitchen. This journey has taken me to Africa and Honduras and to international G8 Summits. I have met high-profile people like Bono and George Clooney and I even filmed a commercial with Julia Roberts. On my journey I got involved with local grassroots advocacy groups, with my church, with large humanitarian organizations like World Vision, and I joined ONE.

My learning curve was huge and I was embarrassed at my ignorance on many of the global issues. Yet I decided to jump in despite feeling overwhelmed. I am not a policy expert nor do I ever expect to be one, but by jumping in exactly where I was I entered the conversation.

I believe today women are thoughtful and deeply concerned about issues of extreme poverty and preventable disease. The millions of AIDS orphans, and the children who needlessly die from lack of clean water and from malaria, tug at every woman’s heart. I also believe in today’s world with 24 hour news on our TV’s, computers and phones it can feel as if we have a front row seat to the world’s problems but do not know how to connect and get involved in a meaningful way.

I say, start right where you are. In your town, in your church, in your circle of friends. Maybe in addition to going to that umpteenth Bible study on that book you know by heart, or instead of going to a book club for a book you didn’t even like, gather with your friends once a month. Educate each other on the issues and decide together where and how you wish to get involved and make a difference for another woman somewhere and her family.

Can you envision with me a new kind of feminist movement? A modern Woman’s Movement made up of ordinary women being a voice for women and families worldwide in need.

Shayne Moore is an author, blogger, speaker, activist and mama of three. Look for her forthcoming book entitled Global Soccer Mom; One Woman’s Journey into Social Justice. Follow Shayne on twitter @TheologyMama.

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