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

Alternate Activity 3: A Web of Responsibility

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 3, We Are Connected and a basket
  • A ball of yarn
  • A large roll of plain paper, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Activity 5, Creating a Web is a shorter version of this activity. Read both, and choose one.
  • Print the Leader Resource. Cut apart the quotations (18 are provided) and place in the basket.
  • Identify and measure an open floor space the youth will create when they gather in a circle. Cut enough sheets of paper to cover the floor space. Then, tape the sheets of paper together to form a "carpet" where the youth will be able to place the yarn web they make.
  • Decide if you will affix the yarn web to the paper or trace the web pattern on the paper, with markers. Bring the markers (and tape if you will need it) when you form a circle with the youth.
  • Find a place to display the paper as a large mural, and obtain any permission you will need.

Description of Activity

Participants learn an earth-centered religious perspective on our responsibility to each other and to the earth and experience interconnectedness by playing a game.

Say, in these words or your own:

Our seventh UU Principle says we agree to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. This Principle recognizes the strong identification many Unitarian Universalists feel with earth-centered or pagan beliefs. These religions-many with roots in the ancient religions of indigenous people-emphasize our connection to the earth. The earth is a living creation and our home; therefore, we are responsible to help sustain and protect it.

Since we are all citizens of the living planet, we are all connected: to each other, to our animal and plant siblings, too. Our way of being should respect these connections. We are responsible to each other and all living things.

Invite participants to pick quotes from the basket and then gather in a circle. Holding the ball of yarn, read your quotation aloud, then wrap the yarn around your wrist 3 or 4 times. Invite someone across the circle to read their quotation. When they have finished, toss them the ball of yarn. Have them wrap the yarn around their wrist, then choose someone else to read a quotation. Continue until everyone has had a turn. Have the last reader toss the yarn back to you.

Say, in these words or your own:

We are connected. The web of existence means my actions affect you and your actions me and our actions affect the planet.

We are responsible. I am responsible to you and you are responsible to me and we are responsible to the living planet, the only home we have.

Instruct the youth to extract themselves from the yarn, one at a time, trying to keep the web intact, and then together lay the web on the paper you have placed on the floor.

Pass markers around the circle. Ask participants to think of ways they act responsibly: for themselves, each other, other life forms, or the planet as a whole. An example might include, "I compost, to return nutrients to the earth." Have a co-leader and/or volunteer begin taping the yarn to the paper, keeping the web's shape, or tracing the web pattern with marker-whichever you have decided to do.

Tell the youth you would like them to write their responsible act inside the group's web, to create a mural together. Tell them where they mural will be displayed.

Go first to model stating your example, then writing the example in one cell of the web.

Engage volunteers to carry the web to its display location. Post it as a visible reminder of the virtue of responsibility, in action.