Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History

Activity 2: The Good Samaritan Dilemma

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story "The Good Samaritan" and prepare to read or tell it to the group.
  • Review "Strategies for Brainstorming" in the Leader Guidelines section of this program's Introduction so you will be able to use the "word cloud" format to record participant responses on newsprint.
  • Write these questions on newsprint, and post:
    • With whom in this story do you most closely identify? Why?
    • At what point in this story is the critical injustice?
    • What would your impulse be if you were the Samaritan? Would you pass by on the side of the road? Retell the story widely? Set up first aid stations along the road? Make the road safe by policing it? Arrest the robbers and punish them? Restore the thieves to the community? Question a society that produces thieves?

Description of Activity

Share the story "The Good Samaritan," which is likely familiar to participants. Invite participants to think about this story in a different way. Have them move into groups of three and ask them to consider the questions you have posted on newsprint. Allow ten minutes for small group work.

After ten minutes, re-gather the large group and invite brief comments and observations about the small group conversations. Note that the questions named some, but not all, of the ways a person could respond to the situation faced by the Samaritan and the other passers-by. There is more than one way of doing the work of bringing justice into the world.

Invite the group to consider what we mean when we say "social justice." Lead the group to brainstorm a list of ideals that inspire social justice work, and write these words on a blank sheet of newsprint in a "word cloud" format. These might be words like "fairness", "compassion," and "peace." Allow two or three minutes for this brainstorm. Post the sheet of newsprint.

Now invite the large group to respond to the following questions:

  • Which potential actions of the passers-by in the Good Samaritan story could be called "social justice work"?
  • How do those actions work toward the ideals we named?
  • To what responses does our Unitarian Universalist faith call us?