Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What We Choose: An Adult Program on Ethics for Unitarian Universalists

Activity 3: The Lesser of Two Evils

Part of What We Choose

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Journals or notebooks, one for each participant
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Write on newsprint, and post:
    • When have you had to make a choice between unappealing or downright undesirable options (i.e., what we sometimes call choosing the lesser of two evils)?
    • What was the situation?
    • What values were in conflict?
    • Did you apply utilitarian moral reasoning to your decision-making process?
    • Did your emotional reaction influence your eventual response/decision?

Description of Activity

Read aloud the posted questions for reflection. Invite participants to write or draw in their journals as a response which they will share with others after about five minutes.

Invite participants to create groups of three to share their stories. Allow ten minutes for small group conversation, and then re-gather the large group. Ask:

  • In your groups, what did you discover about your decision-making process when confronted with a lesser of two evils situation?
  • Did your group find examples of times when altruism or generosity (caring about the needs/interests of the many) trumped self-interest or self-preservation?
  • What values did you uphold in your decision-making process? How did you determine which was the greater good?

Including All Participants

Some participants may have a hard time hearing in a room with many groups speaking at once. Invite small groups to move apart or provide areas for groups to meet outside the main room.

Create a large-print handout that includes the discussion questions to assist those who are visually impaired.