Activity 3: Personal Experience
Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Participant journals
- Variety of writing and drawing implements
- Timepiece (minutes)
- Optional: Bell or chime
Preparation for Activity
- If participants may need journals, obtain notebooks with unlined pages. Gather a variety of writing and drawing implements.
Write on newsprint, but do not post:
- Ballou believed it is impossible for you to act in ways that are not motivated by personal desires to feel happy. How might he challenge your claim that you have acted without such a personal desire? How would you refute his claim?
- Ballou considered human happiness a God-given right. What is your own attitude toward human happiness? What were the messages you received growing up or that you currently receive from family or society about happiness? Does your attitude have a connection to your liberal faith? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
Description of Activity
Tell participants that Hosea Ballou believed our personal desires motivate our actions and all of these desires-for example, benevolence, greed, self-sacrifice, love-boil down to one: the personal desire to feel internally happy. Invite them to recall two personal experiences, one which they believe was motivated by a personal desire for happiness and one which they believe was not. Allow five minutes for participants to write or draw about these experiences in their journals.
Post the newsprint you have prepared. When the five minutes are up, sound the bell or chime if you have one. Call participants' attention to the newsprint by reading the questions aloud. Invite participants to move into groups of three to reflect together on each of the questions. Explain the group process using these or similar words:
Each person in your group is invited in turn to offer personal reflections in response to the first set of questions. The group's major role here is active, caring listening, rather than discussion or debate about what others share.
After all have responded to the first set of questions, move on to the second set, with each person in turn responding to these. So all may have an opportunity to respond, please limit your individual speaking time to about three minutes for each set of questions. You may wish to appoint a timekeeper or share that responsibility to ensure that all have time to speak.
Give the small group part of this activity 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, signal the group to move into the second set of questions. Signal the group again when time is up.