Let him who expects one class of society to prosper in the highest degree, while the other is in distress, try whether one side of the face can smile while the other is pinched. — Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), British clergyman and author
Grade school children begin to ask the big questions that adults do, such as, "What makes me human? Why am I alive? What happens when I die?" Also like adults, they ask, "Where do I fit in?" Children get their answers the same way adults do—by looking around, comparing themselves to others and noticing how others see them.
This session introduces a working definition of class as one's relative status according to wealth, power and position. We guide children to examine themselves in these terms and to discuss what it means to compare people in these ways. We focus participants' attention on people and classes they might be unaware of—the unseen workers who grow and prepare their food, make their clothing, and build and maintain our societal infrastructure. We come full circle to understanding how our first Unitarian Universalist Principle transcends class and guides us to challenge society's systems of comparative human worth.
Facilitate with care. Assume the group includes a range of socio-economic class identities. Children may offer to self-identify their socio-economic class or speculate about others'. Affirm their right to explore class categories. Emphasize that these categories are subjective. They matter to some people, yet they are not fixed and they do not determine the worth of anyone.
This session will:
- Introduce a working definition of class and guide participants to consider their own socio-economic class
- Demonstrate that perceptions about social class place barriers between people that are antithetical to the first Unitarian Universalist Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every individual
- Guide participants to expand their socio-economic field of vision to include others whom they may not know but whose lives, through their work, are connected to participants' lives.
- Learn a working definition of class and explore what it means to be perceived as, or perceive others as, rich, middle class, working class or poor
- Reflect on where they fit into the world socio-economically
- Discover connections to working people they do not personally know whose labor helped form the enjoyments and necessities of their lives
- Understand the guidance of our first Unitarian Universalist Principle to look past socio-economic distinctions and treat each individual as equally valuable and deserving of respect.
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