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

Activity 2: Story - Lotta Hitschmanova, Mother of a Thousand

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you can present it effectively.
  • Print the Leader Resource to show participants.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.
  • Optional: If you are not copying the story, create the time line on a handout and copy for participants, or create the time line on newsprint, and post.
  • Optional: Set up a computer with Internet access to browse the USC website with the group. Alternatively, download material from the USC website or request sample materials.

Description of Activity

Youth learn about a faith ancestor who worked for fairness.

Show Leader Resource 3, Lotta Hitschmanova, to participants. Then, tell or read the story and discuss it with these questions:

  • How did fairness play a part in Lotta's life and career choice?
  • How do you think Lotta felt helping to secure visas for other people when her own visa was denied? What does it say about her character that she did this?
  • Look at the time line. Can you see Lotta's sense of fairness growing throughout her life? How did she take a sense of personal fairness in her daily life and grow it into justice work that touches millions of lives?
  • When you think of what you would like to do in your adult life, what role does fairness play?
  • Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist, has an often-repeated quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Do you believe this? Can it be applied to one person instead of a group? Did Lotta do her work alone? Can you think of other examples of people who witnessed unfairness and started organizations or gathered a group of people to help them alleviate unfairness?
  • Which of our UU Principles says something about fairness (or justice)?
  • When is it hardest to be fair? Easiest?
  • What inspires you about this story?

Ask the youth if any had heard of the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada (USC) before hearing this story? If you have pre-arranged to do so, visit the Canadian USC website and/or review their materials with the youth now. Let the group know that our Canadian cousins were part of the Unitarian Universalist Association until recently, but now have their own, unique organization. Note that Universalism is a distinctly American religion and is not part of the Canadian Unitarians' name. Unitarianism is more widely found in other countries. However, what is called Unitarianism in other countries is not always the same as what we think of when we say "Unitarian Universalism."

If you have time, view the Canadian USC material alongside the website or print publications of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). What differences do you see? [Answers may include the USC's focus on food and farming, materials in French, no "Universalism" in their name.] What similarities? [Answers may include 1) both work for justice all over the world, and 2) gender equality is a focus for both groups.]