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

Activity 2: Up Side, Down Side

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Post two sheets of newsprint, one labeled "Forgiveness: Up Side," the other labeled "Forgiveness: Down Side."
  • Post a third sheet, headed "Does forgiveness mean... " and write: "To pardon?" "To give up resentment of a person or act?" "Mercy?" and "To make an excuse for?

Description of Activity

Participants identify positive and negative aspects of the virtue of forgiveness.

Invite youth to sit for a moment and think about "forgiveness" as a virtue. Indicate the possible definitions you have posted on newsprint. Lead a discussion; these prompts may be useful:

  • What have you been told about forgiveness: What it means, when to practice it, when not to practice it?
  • Who defines forgiveness? Does it mean different things to different people?
  • Is it harder to forgive yourself or forgive other people?
  • Is there anyone you admire who exhibits this quality regularly?
  • Do you have friends and/or family members who seem to never forgive? How do you feel when you are around these people?
  • How do you feel about the phrase "forgive and forget?" Should you forget? Is forgetting a necessary element in forgiveness?
  • Is forgiving the same as condoning what someone did or saying an act is not wrong?
  • What other questions come to mind when you think about forgiveness?
  • What are the advantages to forgiving? What disadvantages?

As participants discuss the questions, briefly write on newsprint the positive ("Up side") and negative ("Down side") aspects of forgiveness that emerge. Conclude by reviewing the comments you have captured.