Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Public Responsibility

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
- President Barack Obama

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
- Mother Teresa

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
- President John F. Kennedy

If someone is having a problem, don't ask them what you can do to help, just do it.
- My Mom


My kids' principal sent out an email last week informing us parents they WOULD NOT be showing President's Obama's address to kids, but said they would record it if anyone were interested. I hesitated (do I want to jump into this thing - well, yes) and then responded back that I would have let my kids see it because the information looks positive. And - what better example of the value of education than from a man who literally overcame several issues we commonly label as " childhood adverse risk factors" to become president of the United States. The principal responded by saying if I wanted to come up to the school, I could watch the speech with my kids. So, I did.

I don't think they actually widely advertised this as an option, so it was my kids, 2 other moms, their 2 kids, and me. We huddled around an old computer in the library. We couldn't get the sound up very high, so we huddled around the speaker. It made me think of the days when people huddled around the radio for the fireside chat.

We couldn't hear very well at all, but we could hear most of it. I poked my kids several times during the speech - especially the parts about not giving up and to keep trying even when it doesn't turn out well. What stuck with me was the quote I've posted above.

This is really the heart of social work training - and Catholic Social Justice teaching - and really, just plain being a good, responsible, and productive citizen.

It is this idea that what we do (or don't know) isn't about just how it impacts us as individuals - but this idea that we have a public responsibility too. As Mother Teresa said - we belong to each other.


Don Gatwood said...

Yes, I agree. It is unfortunate that our President and far too many Catholic citizens miss the crucial elements of Catholic Social Teaching that being attention to human dignity from conception to natural death and subsidiarity. I couldn't help but notice the quote from JFK regarding each individual's responsibility to the republic. It is unfortunate that we now live in a society where the citizenry look to the government for everything. As a people we have lost a sense of self determination, and quite ashamedly our profession of social work has contributed a great deal to this loss of self determination and responsibility to the republic.

CJ Social Worker said...

Thanks for your thoughts.

When I was in social work school, I noticed that a lot of us were Catholic or Jewish.

I think it is because both religions have the teachings/traditions of social justice and responsibility.