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Activity 2: Conundrum Corner - Speaking of UUs and Social Justice
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Scales of justice in Conundrum Corner
- Samples of social justice statements issued by the Unitarian Universalist Association; see Leader Resource 2, Social Justice Resolutions or the pdf file linked below in Preparation for Activity.
Preparation for Activity
- Review your own understanding of Unitarian Universalism and social justice work.
- Commission on Social Witness, Social Justice Statements contains a collection of statements.
Description of Activity
Youth explore the idea of balance as it relates to social justice.
Ask youth to demonstrate what balance looks like by balancing on one foot. Then let them try that with their eyes closed. See if anybody can do that for a timed minute.
Point out the scales of justice in the Conundrum Corner and ask participants what they are. Say, if they do not, that these are the scales of justice. Scales of justice are often used as symbols by lawyers and in courts. Ask them what connects the scales of justice with what they just did. Here are some thoughts to offer:
- Sometimes it is hard to know whether something is good or bad. You have to balance its good points and its bad points to decide.
- People who punish other people, like judges, and sometimes parents and teachers, have to balance the punishment and the sin. We do not throw somebody in jail for sticking gum under the seat in a movie theater.
- You often need to balance right and wrong when you act. You know it is wrong to break into a car; but it might be right to break into a car to help somebody who is unconscious and locked inside. Making the right decision sometimes requires a balancing act.
- When the scales of justice become unbalanced, bad things can happen. Even too much of a good thing, if an imbalance is created, can be bad.
- We have to balance our own lives. We need to decide how much time we should spend doing our homework or our jobs and how much time we should spend helping other people and making the world a better place.
Ask participants why they think Unitarian Universalists spend so much time and energy working for social justice. Why not just spend their time making money and having fun?
Suggest some of these answers if participants do not:
- They are taught to do so. The Bible and the Koran are just two of many UU Sources that say people should work for social justice.
- It just feels right to do so.
- They believe in the Golden Rule. They want to help people in trouble because they would want others to help them. (See also The Golden Rule, which is Activity 4 in Session 4, Telling Right from Wrong.)
Introduce the group to some of the social justice resolutions the Unitarian Universalist Association has passed at its annual General Assemblies. Say that the Commission on Social Witness is the organization in the UUA that is responsible for preparing these statements each year and making them available in print and online. Show the youth samples of such statements that you have found on the web or use the ones in Leader Resource 2, Social Justice Resolutions. Try to use recent statements about subjects that you think will interest your sixth graders most.
Ask if your youth have ever attended general assemblies. Have they heard of them? General assemblies are held each year in a different American city. Thousands of delegates, representing every congregation, come together for meetings and worship, for fun and work. Some of the people at every GA are official delegates from their own congregations. They have the right to vote on behalf of their churches for or against ideas presented at large meetings called "plenary sessions." Some of the things they vote on are social action resolutions. These say what the Unitarian Universalist Association believes should be done to make the world a better place. One resolution might be about ending a war. Another might be about equal rights for minority groups.
Before concluding the activity, mention that Unitarian Universalists pride themselves on their work for social justice. However, many other denominations and religions do social justice work, and some of it is wonderful. Youth who visit other houses of worship with their friends will find that they, too, may go to soup kitchens, oppose wars, and support minority groups. Of course, different religions do not always agree about justice issues. Sometimes UUs work for causes that some other religions work against, and vice versa. But caring enough about the world to try and help it is common to religious people of many different faiths.
Say that in the next activity, Ethics Play, the group will think about doing the right things in their own lives.
Including All Participants
Skip the balancing demonstrations if youth have physical limitations that will preclude their involvement, but do not conclude too hastily that this is the case. A youth in a wheelchair may take pride in balancing on the rear wheels and somebody with crutches might have a special talent, too.