Activity 2: Up-and-Down Questions
Activity time: 10 minutes
Description of Activity
This activity allows a bit of movement as participants respond to ten statements.
Give instructions like these:
I am going to read ten statements. If you agree with the statement, stand up. If you disagree, stay seated. If you halfway agree, stand halfway up. After you react to each statement, we will talk about it. Then we will all sit down and I will read the next one.
Here are the statements:
- I agree: most people have both good and bad wolves to feed.
- I myself have good and bad wolves that require feeding.
- Feeding your good wolf helps you build good character and feeding your bad wolf helps you build bad character.
- Most people can build good character if they want to do so.
- People with good character do not dream about doing bad things. (Reference the question asked in the Opening. Where do bad dreams come from? What can you do about them?)
- People can control what they dream if they really try. (Some youth may have heard of "lucid dreams." These are dreams in which the dreamers know that they are dreaming. Some experts say that people can be trained to dream lucidly and to control their lucid dreams. If youth could control their dreams, what kind of dreams would they have?)
- People can control what they think if they really try.
- If you have bad thoughts, you have bad character. (Some youth feel tortured by bad thoughts; they may equate having bad thoughts with doing bad things.)
- Bad thoughts do not matter; what counts is what you do. Introduce the idea that people are what they do, and are known for what they do, not for what they think. Consider sharing this saying: "We do as we are; we become as we do." Share also these words from Isaac Bashevis Singer: "We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions." (Note: Help youth to understand that occasional bad thoughts usually do not by themselves hurt anybody. However, people who have frequent bad thoughts they cannot get rid of, or thoughts that keep pushing them to act in ways they know are bad should talk to a counselor about them. For youth, a counselor could be a parent, a school counselor, a minister, or another adult friend.)
- People can control their own character if they so desire.
Ask youth what they think "character" means. You might say that "character is the real you, the qualities that make you you." Mention that an educator named Henry Huffman once said, "Character is what you do when nobody is looking." Ask how "character" and "personality" differ. Consider explaining that personality is related to character, but personality is more on the outside than character is. Personality is what people see when they first meet you. They will not understand your inner character until they know you better.
In the course of discussion, point out that people sometimes say that an individual has a "good character" or a "bad character." However, most people are not wholly bad or wholly good. They have a mix of good characteristics and not-so-good, or bad, characteristics. It is better (and easier) to evaluate peoples' actions than their characters. Still, it is good to know something about the characteristics that form their characters.
Including All Participants
If you have participants who cannot easily stand, change the way you ask the group to signal agreement. Youth might raise two hands for full agreement, one hand for partial agreement, and no hands for disagreement.