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

Activity 4: Are Rights Absolute?

Part of What We Choose

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print and read Leader Resource 2, Where I Stand Statements.
  • Create additional statements if there are other rights-based issues that are important in your community.
  • Clear furniture from the space where this activity is to take place, preferably a different space from your usual meeting space so participants can return to their chairs for discussion. Decide which side of the room represents affirmation and which does not. Take into account those with mobility challenges, making sure that all can move freely in the space. Provide chairs at each end of the room for those who cannot comfortably stand.

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity with these or similar words:

I am going to list some rights often discussed in the public arena and invite you to decide whether or not you affirm each one in turn. For each right, I invite you to move to one side of the room or the other, depending on whether you affirm that right [indicate the correct side of the room] or not [indicate the other side of the room]. For each one, you must choose one or the other; you cannot remain neutral. It may be difficult to choose-that is part of the point of this exercise.

One at a time, read the statements in Leader Resource 2, Where I Stand Statements. After each statement, give participants time to move, and then invite one or two volunteers from each position to explain their choices. After all statements are read, invite participants to sit. Ask:

  • Did you ever have a hard time choosing which position to take?
  • Did you find yourself wanting to choose a neutral or a conditional position?
  • When you heard others' reasons for taking the positions they did, did their reasoning change your perspective?
  • What conclusions, comments, or observations can you make about using a rights-based ethical framework?