Activity time: 10 minutes
Description of Activity
This activity comes from Once Upon A Time: Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying by Elisa Davy Pearmain; permission pending.
Tell the participants, in your own words:
Imagine you are walking down the hall at school when a group of older kids goes by. They are so involved with impressing each other that they force you into the wall, knocking the books out of your hands and to the floor. They don't stop. They don't say "I'm sorry." They don't help to pick up the books. What would you call out?
Give participants a chance to respond. Allow then to say whatever they feel.
Now imagine you are one of the older kids. You forgot your lunch. Your mom got mad at you and you are late for class. You bump into some younger kids you don't know. What would you be thinking about? Were you being mean? Were you being unthoughtful?
Again, allow the children to process. Focus the discussion on what difference it might make when hurtful behavior is unintentional, or accidental, as opposed to purposeful. Ask:
- Would it make a difference in how you respond to a hurt, if you assume the person caused hurt by accident?
Now revisit the first scenario. See if the children can come up with responses that wish the older children well, responses that express love and empathy. Remind them although they might feel they want to "get someone back," when their immediate response is anger, they can respond with love instead. They can remember to think like the Sufi Dervish did. The Dervish did not assume the carriage driver wanted to hurt him. The Dervish assumed the driver was thoughtless because he had some problems of his own.
This lesson may be difficult for some participants, especially younger ones. Consider doing a role play. Describe the first scenario. Have a few volunteers mime walking with books and a few other children play the ones who push. Then do it again, with the roles reversed. Instructions for safety are important: Explain that the "pushing" will be gentle as it is meant to illustrate, not to harm anyone.