Ironically enough, one of my good friends from USD moved to the San Jose area around the same time I headed over to the South Bay, and he has been one of the greatest blessings to me during this time of transition. Jake served as an Augustinian Volunteer for a year in Mass. after college, and more recently, he returned from spending two years in Chile as a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteers. So good!
We are doing the same type of work up here in San Jose, so that’s pretty cool too.
In the many moments that Jake and I spend together, we end up talking about social justice. More specifically, we share our pictures and stories from our times spent internationally, and often talk about how it is that we plan to intentionally live what we have experienced and learned.
I mean, just ’cause we are no longer abroad and no longer living in those communities, does not mean that our mission is over. In fact, I think the challenge is just beginning, and the mission starts to take a new shape as it is formed and developed where we now reside.
Sometimes Jake’s roommates would walk into their living room, only to find he and I with our “Spirit & Song” booklets open, singing praise & worship songs on Sunday evenings after mass…or, actually, any weekday, really. We always somehow end up talking about the difficulties and challenges we face with trying to live more just and socially responsible, amidst a world that is not all the time just, and not all the time socially responsible. And now we have salaries, no longer stipends! More responsibility.
There’s New Resource Bank, a bank which carries the “vision of bringing new resources to sustainable businesses and ultimately creating more sustainable communities.” Awesome! The difficulty is that there is only one physical location, and while they have partnered with a number of other banks for their customers to make use of their ATMs, there are other difficulties along the way. Some which may not necessarily be conducive for those with jobs which require withdrawals of large amounts (due to immersion trip pocket money!)
And clothing…Jake and I have spent much time scouring the web for “just” and “socially responsible” clothing brands. Have we found some? Yes. Well, how about dress shirts, work clothes – not just t-shirts and yoga wear? Are the companies which used to be under so much criticism for their mistreatment of employees and unjust conditions, now owning their social responsibility for the common good? On various sites, you can see different ratings…but how are those ratings really calculated?
How about living simply? We want to live simply. But we also want to socialize and spend time with friends. Does that mean that we simplify our social life and not hang out as much in certain social circles? The questions continue to spiral themselves into others, and while we may not necessarily find the answer, the question is there, and we kinda just leave it up to ponder and contemplation until the next idea or an epiphany comes.
But these things are important! As huge advocates for social justice who are striving to become more social responsible and aware citizens, it is so imperative that we continue to educate ourselves with what’s going on in this realm of life.
We never stop learning, and I’m so glad that that’s the truth. One day at a time.
What are your favorite brands which are fair trade and/or adhere to a code of social responsibility? How do you live more simply in your life? What advice would you give to someone trying to live a more justice-centered life?
is it possible?