The Greater Good: Why Involving the Young People of the Fellowship Matters
by Kim Hartman, Director of Religious Education
Next month the young people of the Fellowship will be voting for this year’s recipient of the Greater Good. We ask our young people to choose the recipient of the money that we raise because in all likelihood, they are the ones who will be the most impacted by their families participation in the project. Rather than receiving what might have been an excess of gifts, they will be sharing half of what could have been their holiday presents with those who will benefit from the donation.
Asking our young people to participate in the Greater Good is educationally sound. As Unitarian Universalists, it is important that we teach our young people how to practice living their values. It is important to help them understand that ours is a faith that places value on action; that we are driven by the desire to help make the world a better place for all, and this sometimes requires that we do what is not always easy. Additionally, the voting piece is a wonderful way to help our youngest people to practice and begin to understand the democratic process and our fourth principle. Both of these are fantastic experiences for our young people, as they uphold and reinforce basic UU values and practices.
Each year that we have participated in the Greater Good project, I have been absolutely stunned by the seriousness with which the young people take on this task. This is not a flippant decision making process for them. For many, this is one of the first times that they can have a voice in something that will affect real change in the real world. This is a powerful realization, and it is absolutely not lost on them. Of course, I am sure they are motivated by the desire for the donations to go to who they feel will best utilize it, but I also have grown to believe that there is another layer behind this. I believe that through this practice, our young people realize on a deep level that they are a valued and important part of the our Fellowship community. An enormous impact is made by asking them to choose our recipient; we implicitly affirm to our community that their presence matters, their opinions matter, that the Fellowship community trusts their decisions, and that their voices are heard. They begin to view themselves as important and equal members of our community. We all need to feel like this, especially in our spiritual communities. We benefit from the fullness that each one of contributes to our larger community. This year, I encourage you to speak to a young person of the Fellowship about the importance of their role in being co-creators in helping to create a better world.
What is the Greater Good?
The Greater Good Project is about embracing the core value of giving. It is inspired by the message of Jesus, who practiced giving to those with needs greater than his own and taught others to do the same. Although inspired by Christian teachings, the Greater Good it is intended to reach beyond the Christian faith tradition and to offer an opportunity to our community to embrace a practice of giving during the winter holidays, a time of year that can easily be eclipsed by consumerism, materialism, and greed.
How does it work?
Greater Good asks Fellowship members and friends to take a look at their typical holiday spending (presents, food, travel, wrapping, cards, etc.) and to donate half of the amount they would typically spend to the designated Greater Good recipient. Donations will be collected after the recipient is chosen (mid December) and will continue through the holiday season.
Important upcoming dates:
December 3- Presentation Day. Representatives from Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve and World Relief Fox Valley will come to the Fellowship to present their vision for how they would use the money that we collect and donate.
December 10- Voting Day. All young people attending classes (regardless of whether or not their families will participate in the Greater Good) will cast their votes to determine the recipient.
*It is very important that as many of our young people as possible attend both of these dates.