Tapestry of Faith: A Place of Wholeness: A Program for Youth Exploring Their Own Unitarian Universalist Faith Journeys

Activity 4: Responding to Injustice

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Thick card stock
  • Scissors
  • Paper, pens and pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut card stock to the size of a business or credit card and make enough cards for all participants to have a few.
  • Write the small group discussion questions on newsprint and post.

Description of Activity

This activity pairs reason with faith as a catalyst for creating justice and gives participants a tool for responding to injustice with reason. Begin by sharing the following words by Melissa Harris-Lacewell from her 2009 General Assembly Ware Lecture:

We [Unitarian Universalists] are determined to use the power of reason to identify the inequalities and injustices in our world. We are determined to marshal evidence as a tool in our work for fairness. But we must be equally determined to stamp out cynicism with hope, to fight hate with love, and to refuse to lose our faith.

Tell the group that reason is a powerful tool for social justice work. As Harris-Lacewell points out, reason helps us identify injustices and gather evidence that points us in a direction toward justice. But with the overwhelming evidence of injustice in the world, hope, love, and faith are important motivators to keep us moving. Without hope, love, and faith we have little reason to think that a just world is possible. This is why James Luther Adams' fifth smooth stone of religious liberalism affirms that there is reason for hope because the human and divine resources to achieve change are available.

Ask the group to brainstorm injustices. Encourage them to be specific-e.g. instead of "racism," write "white students being treated better than students of color at school;" or instead of "heterosexism," write "laws that define marriage as being between one man and one woman." Write their ideas on newsprint.

Ask participants to choose a couple of these injustices that they encounter most often and think about how they might use reason to respond to them. Distribute paper and pens so that they can write notes. Discuss the following reflection questions:

  • Why is this situation unjust? What sources of knowledge say that this is unjust?
  • Imagine justice in this situation. What does it look like?

After five minutes, tell the group that they have the opportunity to create Reason Wallet Cards. Ask, "Have you ever encountered a situation of injustice and, in the moment, were too emotional to offer a response?" Explain that the wallet cards are something that they can carry with them to remind them of the rational arguments they would make to support their beliefs about situations of injustice.

Distribute the pieces of card stock you have prepared and give participants time to write the situation of injustice on one side and their reasoned response on the other. The reasoned response does not need to be a "speech" of full sentences, but could be a few notes or bullet points that they would want to include in a response. If there is time, invite a few volunteers to share their wallet cards.

Thank the participants for bringing their faith and reason to bear on these issues of injustice, and encourage them to use the wallet cards in their day-to-day lives.