Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Three markers
- Journals and pens or pencils
- Handout 2, "The Same Inside," by Anna Swir
Preparation for Activity
- Photocopy Handout 2 , "The Same Inside," one for each participant.
- Head sheets of newsprint with the following three statements, one statement per sheet:
- Human beings are more alike than different, because...
- Human beings are more different than alike, because...
- The top reasons why members of one group may not get along with members of another group are...
Description of Activity
Ask participants to arrange their seats into three groups for discussion. Give each group a marker and a sheet of newsprint on which to complete one of the statements below.
- (group 1) Human beings are more alike than different, because...
- (group 2) Human beings are more different than alike, because...
- (group 3) The top reasons why members of one group may not get along with members of another group are...
Have each group choose a scribe and then brainstorm while the scribe writes down all responses. Give the groups about five minutes to complete the exercise. When you reconvene, ask one person from each small group to read aloud the statement and all of the responses.
Distribute journals and pens or pencils to participants. Have them each write a list of at least ten groups to which they belong. They may include any type of group, from both broad categories (like Republicans, working class, immigrants, or people who wear braces) and specific categories (like Campfire, cheerleaders, or yearbook staff). They may include groups they were born into and those they joined. Give the group a few minutes to make a list.
Ask participants to view their lists for the groups that others can see they belong to, just by looking at them. Have them circle those groups.
Now have them look for and underline groups they belong to that might surprise an acquaintance.
Next, have the group look around the room. Ask whether they think the people in this room are diverse.
- If most participants say yes, ask them to identify the ways in which they are diverse. Suggest to the group that, because they already know one another, they may be aware of less obvious ways in which the group is diverse and be less prone to label people or make assumptions about them.
- If most say no, invite volunteers to read aloud some of the underlined items from their list. Point out the diversities as they emerge.
Now ask the group whether they are a more diverse or less diverse group than they originally thought.
Use these questions to lead a discussion that explores assumptions:
- What assumptions do we make when we see a person who looks like we do?
- What assumptions do we make when we see a person who looks different from us?
Distribute Handout 2, "The Same Inside." Ask for two volunteers to read the poem aloud, and allow about thirty seconds of silence after each reading.
Lead a "What do we have here?" discussion, using these questions:
- What is the poem's story? What happens in the poem?
- What words or lines lose or confound you?
- How is the speaker different at the end of the poem than at the beginning?
Lead a "What's the big idea?" discussion, using these questions:
- How does the poem make you feel? (Sad? Hopeful? Melancholy?) Why?
- What does the speaker get from this woman, a stranger, who makes her forget why she was walking to her lover's place?
- What does the speaker mean by "the same inside"? How are they the same? Are you and the woman the same inside?
- When you consider the first part of this activity (refer to the newsprint) and the diversity we exposed in the exercise that follows it, would you say people are more alike or different?
- How does being aware of our differences and our similarities affect you spiritually? What does it mean for you as a UU?