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

Activity 2: Two Sides to Every Virtue

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Description of Activity

Participants identify positive and negative aspects of the virtue of generosity.

Invite youth to sit for a moment and think about generosity as a virtue. These prompts might be useful:

  • What have you been told about generosity: What it means, when to use it, when not to use it?
  • What have you been told about stinginess? What is the difference between being “frugal” and being “stingy?”
  • What resources do you have that you could be generous with? Does the amount of resources you have influence how generous you might be? How do you measure your generosity, especially if what you are giving is not money? What “amount” are you comfortable with in different situations?
  • Is there anyone you admire who is generous? In what way do they live out their generosity?
  • Has being generous ever backfired on you?
  • What other questions come to mind when you think about generosity?

Invite youth to share their reflections, with statements that start “On the positive side…” or “On the negative side…”. For example, “On the positive side, I feel liberated when I am generous with my money. I feel it reflects my commitment to value people more than possessions.” Or, “On the negative side, some people are always giving things away: money or possessions. When someone gives to me more than I feel I can give back, I feel indebted and I resent that.” Do youth have statements that do not fit either clause? Discuss these as a group.

Make sure these points are discussed:

  • Sometimes a situation can be positive when looked at one way and negative another.
  • Do moderation and balance have a place here, too? Is there such a thing as being too generous? If so, where is the line drawn? Who draws it?