Sunday, March 02, 2008

Preserve & Protect Life

aka "Thou shalt not kill."

Recently, we've been covering the Ten Commandments in Confirmation Class at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church. Two weeks ago the one we were studying was "Thou shalt not kill." The person who is leading the group did not have any kind of activity planned, so I took it upon myself to come up with a game to start off the evening.

Each student was given a balloon. I also had a bunch of Sharpie markers on the floor. They were told to "give life" to their balloons. After a bit of decorating, I gathered them to explain the rules and the objective of the game.

Each balloon represents life. The objective of the game is to preserve and protect life.

The rules:
1) You must stay within the boundaries of the square rug.
2) You must keep your balloon afloat.
3) The point of your push pin may NEVER touch anyone's skin.

At that moment I handed each student a push pin and said, "GO!"

Without hesitation, an 8th grader named Gabe started to attack the balloons near him. The first one to be popped was 6th grader, Jordan's, balloon. After the bang of the popped balloon, she shrieked, "No fair!" Her eyes narrowed and she raised her push pin and tried to get closer to Gabe's balloon in retalliation.

Gabe kept going after balloons. Kevin's was next to be popped. He exclaimed, "He's cheating! I thought we weren't allowed to pop balloons! Aren't we supposed to be protecting them?"

I simply repeated, "The goal is to preserve and protect life."

Kevin looked confused, conflicted even, about what to do next. He knew the goal, but that didn't seem to be matching up with what was going on around him. After a moment of hesitation, he raised his push pin and started going after other balloons.

Haley and Emily stayed in the corner of the carpet and worked as a team to keep the push pins of others away from their "life."

Gabe's balloon eventually got popped, which only freed him up to start attacking other balloons with more fervor. The number of people trying to pop others' balloons outnumbered those trying to preserve and protect "life."

It all came down to the rest of the group trying to attack the two girls in the corner. With Emily's help, Haley's balloon was the last one standing.

I called the end of the game and gathered them to de-brief the experience.

When I started asking various questions, I got all kinds of discussion on the topic. They figured out pretty quickly that the commandment we were covering that night was "thou shalt not kill."

Ruth: "What was the objective of the game?"
Kevin: "To preserve and protect life, but Gabe started popping all the balloons!"
Gabe: "I thought we were only supposed to protect our own life."

Ruth: "How did having that push pin influence you?"
Kevin: "It was so tempting to try and pop other balloons."
Ruth: "So, maybe when we're given the tools to destroy it makes it a lot easier to do it?"

Ruth: "Jordan, your balloon was popped first. How did you feel when that happened?"
Jordan: "I was so mad! I worked hard to decorate my balloon and I was so mad when it was gone. I wanted revenge!"

Ruth: "When you saw one person start ending "life," did it make it easier to start joining in?"
most of the kids: "Yeah!"
Ruth: "Did that make it right?"
the same kids: "I guess not..."

Haley: "We didn't start popping. We were working together because you said we were supposed to protect the life. So, we helped each other."
Ruth: "That was really impressive. I didn't specifically tell anyone to work together, but you did. Sometimes it's our responsibility to stand up for and protect others. How did it feel when you were the only ones left and everyone came after you?"
Emily: "It was really hard. I still didn't want to pop other balloons because you said to protect them, but it almost felt like we had to in order to keep our own balloons alive."

Ruth: "I purposely stated the objective of the game in a positive phrase. What do you think would have happened if I said one of the rules was, 'you may not pop anyone's balloon.'?"
Gabe: "We probably would have anyway. That push pin just made it so easy!"

Ruth: "What do you think this game has to do with the commandment 'thou shalt not kill'?"

(Instead of giving you thier answers, I'd like to hear yours. What are your thoughts?)


Brian said...

Truth -

Thanks for the pick-me-up this morning - I just had images of Andrew Conner and Ben Welzenbach popping all the girls balloons while Max & Selke sit close-by and laugh hysterically.

Glad to read you're still doing some YM aftr all this time - you do have a gift there...

Have a great weekend!

Ruth said...

Hee hee! That visual of the FPCAH kids made me smile. It also made me realize that they're in their early to mid-twenties now... Woah, how time flies.