I am a pastor and a father. I love and appreciate how the boundary between my family life and work life is more blurry and permeable than the average vocation. But there’s always the tension of how much involvement to have in certain commitments that call for more time away from family. In some cases, I’m finding, situations that could take me away turn out to provide opportunities to be together, and do some learning in the process. The key: take them with you.
One of the efforts I am involved in these days is the Campaign for Fair Food, a movement of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida who pick the fresh tomatoes we northerners eat in the winter months. They get lousy wages under extremely difficult working conditions, at times bordering on slavery. This decade-long campaign has worked with corporations who buy their tomatoes, getting them to agree, among other things, to pay another penny per pound for tomatoes, which goes directly to the pickers. So far 11 major corporations have joined the Campaign for Fair Food. I live in Cincinnati, the headquarters of Kroger, one of the next companies the Campaign is inviting to the fair food table.
My oldest daughter, Eve, who is seven, came with me recently when several of us were handing out fliers to customers in a Kroger parking lot, talking with them briefly about the campaign and asking if they would sign a paper saying they’d be willing to pay another penny per pound for tomatoes. Eve and I had talked about what we were going to be doing as we drove to the store. She was by my side the whole time; at first shy, and soon willing to share some of the spiel, and hold the papers that people had signed. She got excited when people agreed to sign on, and disappointed when people said they were too busy or uninterested. She wanted to know more about what it was like for the tomato pickers. We made the connection that the fresh tomatoes inside Kroger were coming from workers who could barely support their own children. When the management of the store asked us to leave, she was curious about that. When we got home, she told the rest of the family about what we did, explaining with some confidence and clarity about what the campaign was all about.
Eve has been studying some at school about the history of slavery in the US, and we have made connections between the abolitionist movement and the Campaign for Fair Food, of which she is now a part!
I think it’s very cool that my daughter is starting to think about these kinds of things and make these kinds of connections – a growing awareness that not all is right in the world – while being a part of a group of hopeful people motivated by faith to do something about it. What is just as cool is that I got to spend several hours with my daughter and give my wife a bit of relief from having to watch all three of our daughters at the same time.
I am learning that, whenever I have the chance, if circumstances allow, take them with you!