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

Leader Resource 1: Forgiveness Dilemmas

Part of Virtue Ethics

Dilemma 1

Alex is spreading rumors about you. You would LOVE to start rumors about Alex, but you know that is wrong. Besides, it would not really fix anything. C.J., the popular youth at school that just stopped dating popular Alex, starts spreading rumors about Alex. Alex approaches you after school and says "Now I know what it feels like to have people tell lies on you, and I'm sorry I started rumors about you. I promise never to lie about you again." You forgive Alex. But two months later, after C.J. and Alex make up, they both spread a new lie about you. What should you do?

Dilemma 2

Sometimes governments commit wrongdoing. Prongel is a fictional country. Prongel imprisoned the native population of Miwis for over a hundred years. Now Prongel is working on intentional reconciliation with the Miwi people. They debate two options. Option 1: Pay every Miwi a certain dollar amount, as restitution for the labor extracted from their ancestors. The check would arrive with a letter explaining that the government does not see this financial restitution as an apology because they do not admit that any wrong was ever done. Option 2: No financial remuneration, but the ruling body of Prongel will issue an official apology that clearly states the wrongs historically committed. Which option should Prongel take? [Does this dilemma seem contrived, because the obvious answer is to combine the options? In fact, history shows that governments are most likely to choose either Option 1 or Option 2, not both.]