Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Alternate Activity 3: Right Livelihood Continuum

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 4, Occupations
  • Large index cards, a handful for each participant
  • Markers

Preparation for Activity

  • Using Leader Resource 4 and other resources, create a list of occupations, from many walks of life. Make copies of the list for participants to share.
  • Make a set of 10 index cards for yourself, writing one occupation on each card, ranging from what you would consider the most principled work you could do to the least.

Description of Activity

Participants consider various professions or occupations they might pursue in light of the effects those occupations might have on their spiritual welfare.

Pass out index cards and markers and set the lists of occupations where everyone can get to them. Say, in these or your own words:

Most young people think from time to time about what they want to do for a living when they are adults. These cards are for writing down some of your ideas. On each card, write something you have thought seriously about doing when you are an adult, or anything you think would be really appealing to do. Do not worry about whether it is practical or not, just how attractive it seems to you. Fill out as many cards as you like, but write only one occupation on each card. If you are drawing a blank, you can look at this larger list of occupations.

Let participants know the cards are not private and will be seen during the activity.

Allow participants a few minutes to write occupations on their cards. Tell them it is fine if there are duplications.

When they are finished writing, invite youth to join you in the center of the room. Explain that for this activity, one end of the room will represent "Best Expresses My Values" and the other end will represent "Least Expresses My Values." Their task is to place the cards they have written face up on the floor wherever they belong on the continuum. For example, a card listing an occupation that would be deeply life-affirming, one that is in keeping with their highest values, would be placed at the "Best" end of the continuum. Note that most cards will probably range somewhere in the middle, and very few are likely to be at the extreme "Least" end. Use some of your prepared cards to illustrate.

Invite youth to place their cards along the continuum now, face up. It is okay if they overlap a little, as long as they can still be read.

When all the cards are placed, ask if any youth would like to read a few of their cards aloud and explain why they placed them where they are.

When everyone who would like to share has done so, allow a little time for the group to examine the continuum and the placement of the various cards before returning to their seats. If some of the same occupations appear at different places along the spectrum, be sure to point this out.

Have participants return to their seats, and distribute occupation lists to any participant who still needs one. Ask the youth to look over the list. Ask:

  • Which occupations are the "worst," from your point of view, that is, most in conflict with your own values? (You might want to note that the Buddha would say, "Butcher, prostitute, and weapons vendor.")
  • Which are the "best" occupations from an ethical standpoint?

Celebrate the thoughtfulness of their comments.

Remind the youth that religions do not exist in vacuums. They are in our lives not just when we come to a church for worship. Religions help us evaluate what is important to us and then live our lives accordingly. Most people are not very happy performing jobs that go against their values-in other words, if they are not practicing Right Livelihood. The continuum shows that you do not have to be a minister or a saint to be a productive member of society and live your values-but you do need to give it some thought!

Including All Participants

Make sure all participants will be able to lay down their cards (some may need another youth's help) and see the entire continuum of cards.