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

Activity 4: Compassion and Religion

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print two copies of Leader Resource 1, Who Says? Set one aside as your "answer key." Cut the other copy into three pieces: quotations 1-4, quotations 5-8, and quotations 9-12. Then, cut each quotation apart from the person who said it.
  • Identify three separate wall spaces. In each space, tape four quotations to the wall and the four names to a table or the floor below.
  • Print Leader Resource 2, Charter for Compassion for yourself, co-leaders, and volunteer readers.
  • Optional: This workshop's Faith in Action activity explores the Charter for Compassion project in more detail. If you have time, consider incorporating it into this activity.

Description of Activity

Participants identify the theme of compassion in different religions.

Invite the group to match quotes with the people who said them. If your group has fewer than 12 youth, they can do it as a group. If larger, invite the group into three teams, each with one set of quotes. Give the group four minutes.

The matching may be difficult. Afterward, process with the following questions:

  • Was the matching easy or hard? Why? Was it difficult to discern one religious belief from the next? Why do you think this was so?
  • If compassion is central to every major religion, including our own, why does there seems sometimes to be a serious lack of compassion in people's behavior?

Introduce Leader Resource 2, Charter for Compassion. Ask volunteers to read. Share that the Charter for Compassion was started by Karen Armstrong, an ex-nun and a best-selling writer about world religions. Though the idea was Armstrong's, the actual document was written by a group. The call for the charter was posted on the Internet and over the next six weeks, more than 150,000 people from 180 countries and many religions and philosophies contributed words.

  • What does the charter say about religions and compassion?
  • How does compassion play a part in your Unitarian Universalist faith?

If you have Internet access, visit the charter's website. You can watch a short video about the charter online. Invite youth to affirm the charter.