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Faith In Action: Economic Justice, Session 1: The Big Questions

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 1, UU Principles and Sources
  • Leader Resource 3, Economic Justice Continuums
  • Bell, tingsha chimes or other sound instrument
  • Optional: Quiet background music and music player
  • Optional: Paper and pens/pencils for seated variation of continuum activity
  • Optional: Poster board, markers and additional arts and crafts supplies
  • Optional: Nametags and markers
  • Optional: Supplies for iron-on t-shirts

Preparation for Activity

  • See if your congregation has posters of the Unitarian Universalist Principles. If not, you may order posters from the UUA Bookstore. Or, find the text of the Principles on the Unitarian Universalist Association website or in Leader Resource 1.
  • Optional: Obtain a copy of the UU Principles in children's language. Find a variety of resources on the UUA Bookstore website.
  • Print out Leader Resource 3.

 

Description of Activity

Among the big questions most young people eventually ask are two related to economic justice: Why is the world so unfair, and what should and can I do about the injustice I see? The Faith in Action segments in the Tapestry of Faith curriculum series offers a wide variety of answers to those questions.

In Riddle and Mystery, economic justice is a recurring Faith in Action theme. Consider three possible approaches:

1. Identify a long-term social justice project that your group can work on in some way during every session.

2. Have the group participate in the specific Faith in Action activities provided for each session.

3. Combine the first two approaches.

If possible, directly involve your youth with the people they are trying to help. However, this is not always easy or even possible. In some communities, soup kitchens are welcoming places where young people can assist, while in other communities they may be less safe than you would like, or difficult to access. Some wonderful projects involve people in need in faraway communities, even on other continents.

The more hands-on the project, the better. It is valuable for youth to ask others in their congregation for money to fund a project, but it is better if the youth earn the money with car washes, bake sales and other activities. It is good for youth give money to Habitat for Humanity, but it is better—more rewarding for all and more fun for many youth—if they can help build homes.

For this first session, you might explain Faith in Action simply with ideas like this:

Many Unitarian Universalists practice faith in action. This means we try to make their actions fit their beliefs. Through Faith in Action projects, we can help make the world a better place. Faith in Action is part of the answer Unitarian Universalists give to Paul Gauguin's third question, "Where are we going?" In other words, "What are we and the world going to become?" We believe our own actions make a difference.

Explain that Riddle and Mystery often suggests that youth do Faith in Action projects connected with economic justice. Ask what the group thinks "economic justice" means. (Simply put, it means giving everybody a fair share of Earth's resources—enough to be safe, healthy and comfortable.) Then move into the activity.

Economic Justice Continuums. Help your youth explore their ideas about economic justice by offering the questions on Leader Resource 3, Economic Justice Continuums. Explain that a continuum in this case means a range of possible answers to a question. Invite the youth to stand. Indicate one side of the room to represent "yes" and the other to represent "no." Ask them to move to the answer that they think is best, or stand somewhere in between if they have reasons to answer both yes and no. Suggest they imagine a line stretching from one wall to the other with the numbers one to ten. One is for yes, and ten for no. Seven means mostly no, three means mostly yes, and so forth. Say that when youth have taken their positions, you will ask them to explain why they are there.

Economic Justice Meditation. Ask the youth to sit in meditative quiet and try to imagine a world with complete economic justice. Say that the meditation will begin when you sound the bell or tingshas the first time and continue in silence (except for meditative music if you are using it). Tell them the second ring of the bell or tingshas will signal them to quietly speak aloud some of their ideas about what full economic justice would be like. Their answers should be short—maybe one word, like "peace," or a few words like "everybody having equal health care." The third ring of the bell or tingshas will signal the end of the meditation.

Economic Justice Slogan. Ask youth to turn some of their ideas from the meditation into a punchy slogan. Process ideas by writing all contributions on newsprint, then helping youth reach a consensus.

Decide how to use the slogan. Point out that a slogan has power only when people act on it or spread it so other people will also act. How will youth share their slogan? Should they make a poster to leave in their meeting space for others to see? Make a series of smaller posters to place around their congregation's meeting space? Organize the group to take action right away.

A second, inexpensive option is to give youth simple nametag supplies and have them write their group slogan instead of their names on them.

A third, more complex option is making t-shirts. You can prepare a design in a computer program, such as Photoshop, then print out the design on iron-on transfer paper or have a specialty printer produce the t-shirt. Your group can decide together on the t-shirt design, but probably a leader or a parent will need to follow through from there. On the Computer Arts website, find out how to use Photoshop for t-shirt design.

Including All Participants

Adapt the continuum activity to include youth of limited mobility. You might have the group remain seated, write a number on a piece of paper to indicate their response to each question and hold up their paper when you give a signal.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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