Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 2: Story - The Farmer on the Hill

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you can present it effectively.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

Say this story is a wisdom tale about courage, from Japan. Tell or read the story. Then, process with these questions:

  • Who acts courageously in this story?
  • The farmer burning his crops was taking a risk. He had no guarantee that the villagers would help him put it out, especially because he was not in good relationship with the village. His actions showed that he had faith in the goodness of the villagers. How does having faith in people’s goodness relate to courage?
  • Suppose the farmer was afraid the villagers might not see the fire or might not be willing to help douse it. Did the farmer have a greater fear that overrode that one? Have you ever been in a situation where you weighed fears against each other? How did you choose which fear was greater? How did that shape your actions?
  • Think of a time you or someone you know acted courageously. It might have involved speaking up about something, or taking a physical risk. What fears did the person need to push past? What gave them the strength to act with courage? [Possible answers might be love, a belief in doing the right thing, or knowing someone depended on you.]


If time permits, invite participants to act out the story with as much melodrama as they wish.