Peace through Understanding, Free to be Me
Jennifer Gates, Youth and Family Ministry Director
Peace cannot be kept by force;
it can only be achieved by understanding. – Albert Einstein
Today in YM:
Throughout the month of October, we are finding ways that we can use more empathy in the world around us! We are excited to have guest speakers join us each week this month to explore different groups of people that we encounter every day. We are learning important lessons about tolerance, acceptance, understanding, and empathy. The biggest lesson that we are learning is that regardless of what another person looks like on the outside or feels like on the inside, we are all more alike than different. We all have the Light of God inside of us.
Today’s topic, “Free to be Me” challenges us to understand they many factors that interact inside our bodies as we determine how we live in the world. We are building on the past three weeks’ discussion of empathy and tolerance, acceptance and understanding. We are excited to have, as our presenter, Robert Salcido from Equality Texas. Robert is committed to social justice and economic equality in the LGBTQ community. He is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in our city. Younger children will have the option of an alternate activity.
When we put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we are often more sensitive to what that person is experiencing and are less likely to tease or bully them. By examining how we can each be more conscious of other people’s feelings and by looking for things we share in common, we can create a more accepting, respectful, and peaceful community. Through discussion, games, guest speaker interaction, and stories, children, teens, and adults will share honest and open dialogue leading to a greater sense of empathy and a deeper understanding of its importance in creating the peaceful environment in which we wish to live.
Key Words and Ideas From This Week’s Lesson:
If you would like to learn more about this week’s topic, or if you are a parent interested in furthering the Sunday School discussion at home, here is some information for you!
Studies indicate that youth who regularly experience verbal or physical harassment suffer from emotional turmoil, low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, poor academic achievement and high rates of absenteeism from school; they also can feel socially isolated. Research also shows that many of the bystanders to acts of harassment experience feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and develop poor coping and problem-solving skills. Clearly, any treatment of others that is based on how they look or on group affiliation —and the toxic effects they produce—are whole society problems that we each must confront. One important thing we can each work on is moving from a role as a bystander to a role as an ally. An ally would look like a compassionate friend who helps us stand up for ourselves and our rights. There are many ways that people can look, behave, or feel different than what we consider to be average. Some people are taller than average, some are shorter. Some people are heavier or lighter than average. People around us have many different shades of skin. People may have an accent or speak a different language. We may know people who have trouble learning or walking or speaking. And some people have different feelings about how they feel on the inside versus how they look on the outside, or about who they choose to love in the world.
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
Acceptance: the act of accepting something or someone, the fact of being accepted: approval.
Understanding: friendly or harmonious relationship; an agreement of opinion or feeling: adjustment of differences.
In addition to the wonderful, heartfelt sharing and discussion that we will have with Robert this week, we will also provide an alternate option for our younger children. If they choose not to attend the discussion group, they will make and reassemble a “hurtful words puzzle” and will read and discuss:
Becoming Me: A Story Of Creation
By Martin Boroson
Have you ever imagined how you came to be? Do you stop and wonder what your place is in creation? Becoming Me presents a way of looking at life and the meaning of our existence, based on timeless spiritual insights. The simple words and radiant illustrations touch something deep within us. With each page turn, we begin to see our place in the world and realize the potential of our lives. We discover that we are part of something greater and, through this, experience our connection to all things and to one another. Becoming Me speaks from the heart, with a voice heard in every language and tradition – a little voice that tells a very big story.
Whoever You Are
By Mem Fox, Leslie Staub (Illustrator)
Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. Their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are all alike. Stirring words and bold paintings weave their way around our earth, across cultures and generations. At a time when, unfortunately, the lessons of tolerance still need to be learned, Whoever You Are urges us to accept our differences, to recognize our similarities, and-most importantly-to rejoice in both.
Principle #3: I create my life experience by what I choose to think, believe and feel.
Principle #5: I must live the Truth that I know!
As always, please feel free to drop by our YM classrooms to see what we are up to! Our space is calm and inviting yet filled with a vibrant energy. Perhaps you will find a place here that tugs at your heart – we welcome you as a visitor or as a volunteer! Jennifer Gates, Youth & Family Minister Director, contact us.
Sunday, October 29 – Fifth Sunday = Family Sunday. No YM Classes.