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Who Is My Neighbor?


Issues in this session

Poverty, poverty awareness, the working poor, hunger, the high cost of medical insurance, children in poverty, charity, justice, doing unto others, common good, American Dream

The Message

This introductory session of Just Neighbors, like an overture, sets a tone and sounds themes that will resound through the rest of the program sessions. In a revealing video, participants meet three working families, of different skin colors and from different parts of the country who all share a common struggle to be able to earn enough to live in simple dignity. The cost of food, housing, medical insurance and transportation exceed the income they earn.

What choices would you make? Would you pay for food, or pay the rent? Pay for medicine or buy the kids a needed pair of shoes?

Why should working parents have to make those decisions?

Participants will usually raise questions about basic fairness implicit in these questions.


The Process

Participants have a chance to identify the short term and long term needs of families like the ones they meet in the video. A brief quiz helps participants realize that the problem of poverty is more wide spread than just the struggles of the three families in the video.

 Finally, why should someone care? What motivates a desire to reach out to these families? What motivates participants to attend a Just Neighbors program?

Just Neighbors sessions always offer hope and a plan of action. What can be done about what is learned? There is a list of “Eight Things You Can Do” at the end of each session. These suggestions range from talking to a friend about what you learned, to doing some local organizing.

In this session recommends participation in the other eight Just Neighbors sessions.


Which Edition is best for you?

  • The Interfaith Edition helps participants discuss what their faiths offer as motivations for caring for those less fortunate, allowing faith to be put into action. There are citations from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to frame the session and to initiate conversation about why we should care for each other.
  • The Community Service edition asks what responsibilities we have to our struggling neighbors as fellow citizens, in the light of our nations striving to reach its goals of equality and justice for all. Readings from America’s political and literary traditions are incorporated.
  • The Catholic edition reflects upon the Story of the Good Samaritan Luke 10: 29-37 and looks at the meaning of the principle of the common good in Catholic social teaching.