Pondering our Obligations
from Kelly Crocker, Minister of Congregational Affairs
This month we turn our attention to the theme of duty and obligation. Today we think of these concepts on terms of our responsibilities to one another. What is responsibility?
We could think of it as being accountable for what you do, for your actions and behavior.
Or we could say it is the right thing at the right time, so others can trust and depend on you. It is fulfilling our obligations, following through on the promises we have made or on the work that is ours to do.
As parents, we know we have an obligation to raise our children with love and respect, to nurture them and keep the, safe. We may have obligations to parents, helping them navigate their changing world. We have many real life examples of our own that we can use to discuss duty and obligation with our kids. But what are some ways they can be responsible and follow through on obligations to the family?
1. Complete your homework and chores on time without being reminded.
2. Follow through on your commitments, even when you don’t feel like it.
3. Accept responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. Don’t make excuses or blame others.
4. Take care of your things and those of other people. Return items you borrow.
5. Find out what needs to be done and do it.
6. Consider the needs of our planet when you are making choices on how to act and what to do. Think about the obligation we have to creating a healthy Earth.
Every day we each make many choices. May we be thoughtful in those decisions, remembering our obligations to ourselves, one another, and this beautiful blue planet home of ours.
Create Your Own Story
Share with your family the story of the little red hen. Make masks to act it out giving everyone parts. You can tell the original where the hen is making a loaf of bread or you can use a more modern version such as The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. After your family has told or acted out that story, come with your own. The Little Red Hen Bakes a Birthday Cake? In that one, she could be trying to make a cake for the cat’s birthday and no one will help. Use the story as an illustration of our responsibilities to each other and how we all need to pull together to get things done.
Materials: White, brown, and green construction paper. Tree trunk with branches and leaf stencils made from heavy cardboard.
Give each family member one piece each of the white, brown, and green construction paper. Instruct them to use the brown paper to trace and cut out the tree trunk and then glue it on their white paper. Then use the green paper to cut and trace out leaves and then glue the leaves on the branches of the tree trunk. Each person will then write or draw pictures of responsible actions that they will perform on each of the leaves, such as take out the garbage, feed the dog, set the table…)
Play the “What if….?” Game
Materials: A sample lunch, for example, a pb&j sandwich, a piece of fruit.
1. What if the farmer who grew the grain to make the bread for this sandwich decided to play ball instead of harvesting the grain? (Explain that we wouldn’t have any bread to eat, than take the bread off of the sandwich.)
2. What if the workers in the factory decided to all take the day off and not process the nuts?
(Take away the peanut/almond/sunflower butter.)
3. What if the farmers who grew the berries decided to go hiking instead of harvesting the fruit? (Take the jelly away.)
4. What if the workers who harvest fruits and vegetables were too busy watching TV to work in the fields? (Take away any fruit and vegetables)
5. What if the store manager and employees at the grocery store didn’t feel like working for a few weeks and played with friends instead? (Take away everything else and explain that the store wouldn’t be open and we could not get the things we need.)
6. See what can happen when people do not show responsibility? We count on others to be responsible and do their job correctly and on time. The jobs that you have are just as important. (Ask the students to give examples of their jobs.) When you do what is expected of you to the best of your ability, then you are fulfilling your obligations, being responsible and others can count on YOU!
1. What obligations do you believe you personally have for: 1) yourself, 2) your family, 3) your community, 4) the world?
2. Describe something you’ve done that was really irresponsible. How did you feel afterward? What did you learn from it?
3. Describe what this society might be like if nobody was accountable for their actions, if nobody kept their obligations.
Books on Duty/Obligation
Katy and the Big Snow, Virginia Lee Burton
Chrysanthemum, Kevin Henkes
The Shoeshine Girl, Clyde Bulla
Pearl’s Promise, Frank Asch
Magnificent Words to Live By, Brower and Martin
The Giver, Lois Lowry
The Pigman, Paul Zindel