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LJI 10 Week 9: Discussion Questions

Our Sunday School classroom was narrow, with eggshell blue walls. Each week, we received a colorful paper pamphlet, containing a Bible verse for our class to reflect upon, some activities to do together, and discussion questions. I would stare out the high slit of a window, where treetops danced in the sun, and contemplate the moral dilemmas presented to us on colored newsprint.

Geared towards preteens like us, these discussion questions posed what I felt were problems with obvious solutions.

"The new girl at school is awkward and lonely. She is sitting at a table by herself and looks like she's about to cry. What do you do?"

Of course, you go up to her. Of course you talk to her. Maybe you even become her friend.

"The most popular guy in school is a terrible math student, and he asks you to let him copy off your paper the next time you have a test. He tells you that he will introduce you to all the popular kids in school. What do you do?"

No brainer. You tell him no, you cannot let him copy off your test. You continue being the fashion-impaired English geek who sits at the lunch table with the other "brains."

"Your best friend wants you to distract a shop keeper while she steals some candy. What do you do?"

Say no and find another best friend. Duh.

These questions were softballs, nothing like the real moral dilemmas I would face in upcoming years. Where were questions like this one?

"You're dating a really nice guy, but you have the hots for another guy, who's super funny and cute. You think the funny guy is interested in you, too. What do you do?"

Answer: I couldn't decide, waited too long, and broke both their hearts. I kept dating the nice guy until I went off to college, and at the end of a pleasant visit from him, I told him I wanted to see other people. Then I started dating the funny guy, but we were awkward together. He wrote me that his mom died, and I completely flaked out on him and told him I couldn't see him any more.

Or how about this one?

"You see that someone has been writing racist graffiti on a desk in Chemistry class. What do you do?"

Answer: I wrote demented answers to that person, claiming to know who he was and threatening to do all sorts of terrible things to him, signing my messages "POE." Each day, I secretly looked forward to seeing what my "hate pen pal" had written me. I've never told anyone about this before. I doubt the Sunday School teacher would have approved.

Or this one?

"You are dating a guy who is emotionally abusive and controlling. You meet another guy at a Halloween party who is dark, artistic and funny. What do you do?"

Me and funny guys, right? You guessed it: my answer was to have an affair, when I should have just left the abusive bozo. I planned to move out while he was away on a trip one weekend, but then he made the mistake of saying to me, "I don't know what I'd do without you." I couldn't help but answer, "You're going to have to find out."

Knowing what's right is only part of the calculation. We can't foresee the consequences of our actions, except in the most abstract way. What seems right at the time -- or at least right for us -- doesn't necessarily lead to the happiest of outcomes. I'm fortunate I've never had to make a decision that led to dire results for myself or others. That knowledge would be heartwrenchingly hard to reconcile. I suffer from enough guilt over the fact that I didn't go door to door in support of Hillary Clinton when I had the chance.

A learning experience, I keep telling myself. It's all a learning experience. The answers aren't shaded in blue on the back of colored newsprint. The answers aren't anywhere at all.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
unmowngrass
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:43 am (UTC)
Lovely take on the prompt!
alycewilson
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:51 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
j0ydivided
Feb. 22nd, 2017 07:10 am (UTC)
I love this. Most of the difficult moral dilemmas I've found myself facing down have been some shade of gray, not black and white, and I doubt that my Sunday School teacher would have approved of the decisions I made, myself.
alycewilson
Feb. 22nd, 2017 08:01 am (UTC)
Nor I! Glad you could identify. You're right: most moral dilemmas are in shades of gray.
eternal_ot
Feb. 22nd, 2017 08:14 am (UTC)
The answers aren't anywhere at all. Very true. I liked the way you used the prompt. Life sure is a learning curve and you can't really predict the outcomes. *Hugs*
ahavah
Feb. 22nd, 2017 11:32 am (UTC)
I really like this.
ryl
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:50 pm (UTC)
Those Sunday School lesson questions remind me of those 1950s educational shorts--they're about the problems you want to have. They're all stupidly simple and easily solved by a folksy adult or a few minutes of in-class discussion and leave you with no preparation for actual life at all.
bleodswean
Feb. 22nd, 2017 04:08 pm (UTC)
This is a perfect example of how the simple problems of childhood fade away as adulthood brings the complexity of our own autonomy to bear upon our choices and how those choices affect others. I appreciated your honesty here!
my_name_is_jenn
Feb. 22nd, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
I remember getting "moral questions" like that in school and thinking the answers were obvious, and wishing the questions were more about what we were actually facing instead of simple, easy to answer "problems".

I agree with you in that knowing what's right is only part of how to make a decision. What's right isn't always what's easy, and what's right NOW might not be right later.
dmousey
Feb. 22nd, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC)
^^^^^This is a great comment Jen!

I loved this take on the prompt! Thanks for sharing it! Hugs and peace~~~
mamas_minion
Feb. 22nd, 2017 09:05 pm (UTC)
Nice take on the prompt, I never would of thought of it this way.
dee_aar2
Feb. 23rd, 2017 06:00 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely take on the prompt. Very matter of fact and appropriate. Decision making was never easy ... there is such a fine line between right and wrong ... the shade grey rules.
morettaallstar
Feb. 23rd, 2017 06:24 pm (UTC)
A learning experience - everyone's got to start somewhere.
A different take on the prompt, very nicely done.
tonithegreat
Feb. 23rd, 2017 11:03 pm (UTC)
I really like how you made this about realistic choices with consequences. That prompt was so prone to depressing readings otherwise!
murielle
Feb. 24th, 2017 07:46 am (UTC)
Brava! Seriously interesting take on the prompt. At least they tried with you in Sunday school. We did some kind of craft while sometimes we got a lesson.

Please read my entry: http://murielle.livejournal.com/305245.html
I didn't take the bye after all.
rayaso
Feb. 25th, 2017 04:26 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the Sunday School questions were meant for the seriously morally impaired or were made up long ago and never updated. The dilemmas we actually face are far more difficult. If only real life were as easy as Sunday School!
halfshellvenus
Feb. 25th, 2017 09:29 pm (UTC)
I wrote demented answers to that person, claiming to know who he was and threatening to do all sorts of terrible things to him, signing my messages "POE." Each day, I secretly looked forward to seeing what my "hate pen pal" had written me. I've never told anyone about this before. I doubt the Sunday School teacher would have approved.
Hahaha! I couldn't help but laugh at this, especially since you can't do more than tell the instructor that someone is doing that-- who knows in what class or when?

Those real decisions were hard ones, the maturity certainly is a factor in the first (one of the variables rare introduced in those decision-making questions). I'm glad it turned out all right in the end for you, WRT to KFP and the fabulous husband you wound up with. :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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