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

Activity 1: Two Sides to Every Virtue

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Description of Activity

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

Invite youth to sit for a moment and think about loyalty as a virtue. Offer the website definition of loyalty: "faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, commitments, obligations, etc... " Synonyms include "devotion" and "faithfulness." These prompts might be useful:

  • What have you been told about loyalty: What it means, when to practice it, when not to practice it?
  • What does disloyalty mean to you? Have you ever been accused of being disloyal? Who decided you were disloyal?
  • Can you be too loyal? What happens if loyalty is not moderated?
  • To whom or what are you most loyal? How far would you go for loyalty? Does it trump other virtues? Would you lie to protect something or someone you are loyal to? Would you give preferential treatment to someone out of loyalty?
  • Are you a loyal friend? What does this really mean?
  • Are you loyal to your country?

Invite youth to share their reflections, with statements that start off with "On the positive side... " or "On the negative side... ". For example, "On the positive side, brand loyalty makes you feel comfortable: you know what you are getting when you buy Breyer's Ice Cream." / "On the negative side, companies can take advantage of your loyalty to their products. They can raise the price or lower the quality, if they feel they can count on you to buy it anyway." Do youth have statements that do not fit either clause? Discuss these together.

Make sure these points are discussed:

  • What is the relationship between love and loyalty?
  • What is the relationship between peer pressure and loyalty? Remind participants that everyone feels peer pressure, not just youth.