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

Taking It Home: Responsibility

Part of Virtue Ethics

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful. — Marie Curie, scientist

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we talked about the virtue of responsibility and the ever-widening circle of whom and what we are responsible to and for. We talked about personal responsibility, responsibility at home and school, and responsibility for the care of the planet. We explored the complexities of making good choices, including how to balance feelings of responsibility.

Today's Quote

Marie Curie says we have a particular duty to people "to whom we think we can be most useful." Could this guideline help you decide where to spend your socially responsible coinage? Think about the ways you give to society now. Are you using your gifts and talents in the most helpful way?

Personal Responsibility

  • Quizilla is a website where people post quizzes and other items they create. Take a quiz about personal responsibility. Design a quiz with your friends based on your true life experiences. Do not use real names or details that identify people you know. Give the quiz to other friends. Would they act in the same way as you?
  • Sometimes elders tell stories about how great their responsibilities were when they were growing up. Have you heard stories like that? Next time you do, hold a serious discussion with the elder. What was their life like? Did they have responsibilities similar to yours? Share with them your responsibilities. It's possible you have responsibilities they did not have and never thought of.


  • Read about buying clothing according to the "rule of three," or calculate your ecological footprint.
  • Check out The Story of Stuff Project. A short, fun video provides details on the process of how modern things get into our hands: from manufacturing, to shipping, to sales. If you click on "Teaching Tools" you will find some activities to pursue on your own.
  • The Plastic Bag Report keeps track of places that pass legislation reducing the use of plastic bags. Is your state on the list?

Did You Know... ?

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a crusader for justice. This radical Catholic reformer started the Catholic Worker Movement and has been nominated for sainthood. One of her most famous sayings is included in Singing the Living Tradition, our Unitarian Universalist hymnbook:

People say, what is the sense of our small effort.

They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time.

A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that.

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless.

There's too much work to do.