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Alternate Activity 2: Yin and Yang and Other Opposites (10 minutes), Session 10: Right And Wrong Together

In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • A large yin-yang symbol
  • Copy of Leader Resource 2, Yin-Yang

Preparation for Activity

  • Think through and try out the motions suggested.
  • Enlarge a copy of Leader Resource 2, Yin-Yang.

Description of Activity

Yin-yang philosophy offers wonderful ways to visualize growth, change, and the interplay of life's many opposites, like right and wrong. Introduce youth to the concept of yin-yang and explore other opposites in this four-step activity:

  • Show your copy of Leader Resource 2, Yin-Yang, and ask youth what it shows. When they have identified it as a yin-yang symbol (with your help, if necessary), explain that it shows opposites. The black represents yin and the white represents yang. The two sides also represent many other pairs of opposites. Yin is feminine and stands for dark, even numbers, the color orange, the moon, and much more. Yang is masculine and stands for light, odd numbers, azure color, the sun, and much more.
  • Say that seeing yin and yang as opposites is the easy part. The harder part is understanding that the opposites are not absolutes. They work together. We cannot divide people into yin and yang because we all have both yin and yang in us. Everybody has feminine and masculine in them. The yin-yang opposites are always in motion and are always becoming each other. Yin is becoming yang, yang is becoming yin. Life is becoming death, death is becoming life—as the story shows. Dark is becoming light, light is becoming dark. Everything is in motion toward its opposite. Note the small circles in the yin-yang symbol. The dark circle inside the yang is the seed of yin and the light circle inside the yin is the seed of yang. The seed of each is always in the other, so each is always growing into the other.
  • Invite youth to brainstorm other opposites in life that have a similar interplay. The seasons might be one example.
  • Ask youth to help you demonstrate this with their hands and arms. Say they should hold their upper arms tightly against their bodies. Then, while holding the fingers of each hand together, they should curl the fingers of their two hands into each other so they are cupped tightly together. Next, they should pull their hands against each other, first letting one arm be stronger to pull the other hand and arm, then letting the other be stronger to pull the other way. Doing this over and over again, moving their arms back and forth together while they pull against each other, shows how opposites are always becoming each other.
  • Ask participants if they think this works with right and wrong. Are right and wrong—virtue and sin—always pulling against other, always beginning to become each other? Say that many acts are neither wholly right nor wholly wrong. That is what sometimes makes it so difficult to tell the difference between right and wrong. We are told that it is wrong to steal. Is it wrong to steal bread to save a starving person? Does doing that change stealing from wrong into right? What if giving a nice present to one friend means you hurt another friend's feelings? Does that change giving a present from right into wrong?

Optional higher-energy demonstration: If you intend to do this, have two leaders practice in advance and give a demonstration. Ask the youth to pair up with another person of about the same weight and size. (These matches do not at all need to be exact.) The pairs should stand close together, facing each other toe to toe, and then take each other's hands and slowly lean back with their toes still touching. Finally, they should move very gently (stress this) back and forth, with the first person being pulled toward the second, then the second being pulled toward the first, over and over so they each in turn seem to be changing into the other. (Note: This is a trust activity and it presents a danger of falling. If you think your youth will not handle it well, skip it. Otherwise, consider having leaders act as spotters to help catch youth if they begin to fall.)

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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