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

Activity 6: Practice

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Participants' journals, and writing instruments
  • Participants' clipboards with anklets (Workshop 1, Activity 3, Practice)
  • Beads, and waterproof markers and/or other decorations
  • Extra clipboards and string/hemp, and scissors

Preparation for Activity

  • If needed, read instructions for making the anklets in the Before You Start section of the program Introduction and in Workshop 1, Decision Making.
  • Retrieve participants' clipboards with anklets, and participants' journals if these are also kept on-site.
  • Write on newsprint, and post:
    • What activities are you currently responsible for?
    • When was there a time that you acted responsibly?
    • What made it possible for you to accept responsibility in this instance? Has fulfilling the actions you are responsible for now taught you anything about how to be successfully responsible in the future?
    • Have you ever experienced circumstances where it would have been helpful for you to be more responsible?
    • What are the areas of your life now where you could apply the virtue of responsibility to help you be the person you want to be?

Description of Activity

Participants understand how the use of responsibility affects their lives.

Invite youth to take five minutes to journal, using the questions on newsprint as prompts, or to draw or meditate on the questions.

Additional prompts you may add, while the group journals:

  • Is it always clear when you should accept responsibility? If your actions have unintentional consequences, should you still accept responsibility for the outcome?

Invite participants to share journal writing to their level of comfort. You may wish to remind youth that you are a mandated reporter and, if anyone discloses behavior that could be dangerous to themselves or others, you will need to report it. Listen to what is said.

When all who wish to have shared, remind the group that though the world has many problems, they are not responsible for fixing them all. People who feel they need to fix everything often become burned out. People who are apathetic and feel responsible for nothing are frustrating. Remember that moderation is also a virtue. Use these words, or your own:

Malcolm X said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." He did not say, "If you are not the solution, you are the problem." The human race has to work together to solve the problems the species created. Sometimes you might be a part of the solution in a small way, like using cloth bags. At other times, you might play a bigger part. You might lobby your legislator to support the Clean Air Act. You might work for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Share these words from Unitarian minister Edward Everett Hale:

I am only one

but still I am one.

I cannot do everything,

But still I can do something.

And because I cannot do everything

I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Be sure to save five minutes for the youth to decorate their cork beads. Distribute participants' clipboards, new beads (one per youth), and decorating materials. Invite youth to decorate a bead while reflecting on their personal experiences with responsibility. Remind them that the beads will act as a reminder to use their highest values.

As participants finish, have them add this bead to the anklet they started in Workshop 1.

If any participant missed Workshop 1, provide them with a clipboard, hemp, a bead for their name bead, and instruction to begin their anklet.

Collect journals, clipboards, and anklet-making materials, and store for the next workshop.