Ethos Education

The Dark Knight Rises: Whose Money?

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Assembly Objective:

  • Do we own things only for our benefit, or do we owe a duty to the rest of society? This assembly reflects on the Bible’s teaching about justice in the distribution of the world’s resources.

Film: 

  • The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty is essential to the educational goal of developing pupils with ‘rational autonomy’. However the values of Democracy and Rule of Law are based on a shared community where we respect the needs of the wider society.

OPENING ACTIVITY

A Tale of Two Teams (something to think about)

  • Read the following script to the students:
  • In the 1880s, two football teams were formed in the North-West of England who have enjoyed very different histories. Team A was formed in 1885, team B in 1888.
  • In their first twenty years, team A won the Lancashire Cup four times, and the Manchester Cup six times. From 1895 they competed in the top division of the football league. In 1900 they won the FA Cup, and then won it again in 1903. Their second FA Cup success was remarkable for the fact that they didn’t concede a single goal throughout the tournament.
  • Team B struggled on for fourteen years before being served with a winding up order in 1902. Team captain Harry Stafford persuaded four local businessmen to invest in the club. They changed their name and moved to a new ground.
  • Team A is Bury. They play their home games at Gigg Lane, which has a maximum capacity of 11,840. They remained in the top division until 1912, as well as a second spell from 1924-1929. Apart from two seasons in the 1990s, they have spent all of the last 45 years in the third or fourth tier of English football. The 1903 FA Cup remains their most recent major trophy success.
  • Team B is Manchester United. They still play at the ground Harry Stafford’s side moved to in 1902, Old Trafford, which now has a capacity of 75,765. The reborn team won its first league title in 1908, and followed it with a record-breaking eighteen  further titles. The club has also won eleven FA Cups, four League Cups, and four European trophies including being Champions of Europe on three separate occasions.
  • Football is not renowned for equality of wealth. At the turn of the 20th Century, Bury were the big boys and Manchester United were perennial under-achievers facing financial difficulties. Now United are one of the richest sides in the world and Bury are a modest lower-division side. In today’s assembly, we are going to be thinking about some other examples of inequality of wealth outside the world of football.

A Fair Share (drama)

Download the Fair Share script for use with this activity.

  • For this sketch you need five actors, rehearsed in advance. You will also need a number of props, mainly consisting of raffle tickets and various items of food. Feel free to use empty boxes where appropriate and to change the details of what food is offered as prizes to fit in with whatever props you have most readily available. If you do change any of the food items, make sure that your actors know what has been changed so that they don’t mix up their cues.
  • After the sketch, explain that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the way that food is shared out in our world, and whether real life is as unfair as the share out in the sketch.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros, 2012, certificate 12).
    • Start time:       0.32.10 (in chapter 4 of the DVD)
    • End time:         0.34.45
    • Clip length:     2 minutes and 35 seconds
  • The clip starts with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) approaching a couple who are dancing and saying, ‘Mind if I cut in?’ It ends after Selina (Anne Hathaway) has left and Bruce says, ‘Not likely.’
  • The clip shows Bruce and Selina discussing Selina’s career as a cat burglar. Selina warns Bruce that a storm is coming for the wealthy, and that they are going to have to answer for the lives of privilege they have lived while allowing others to go without.

TALK

Download the Poverty Dark Knight Rises Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What would you do if you won ten pounds tomorrow? Or a thousand pounds? Or even a million pounds? [Take some suggested answers from the students if you think they are likely to participate, or just move on with the talk if not. If you take suggestions, try to affirm them where possible rather than criticising their spending plans].
    • Planning how to spend money – particularly money you don’t have – can be fun. Whether we want to spend on physical possessions – CDs, gadgets, clothes – or on experiences – concert tickets, holidays – it’s fun to think about what we might buy.
    • I wonder how many of us, if we suddenly came into a large sum of money, would think about spending it on other people. Perhaps we might spend some of it treating our friends or our families, but would we ever think about spending it on people we didn’t know? Most of us regard whatever money we have as being ours, to spend on ourselves and our loved ones however we see fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Or is there?
    • Here’s a clip from the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. In this clip, Bruce Wayne  – aka Batman – is at an expensive charity party, and he’s talking to Selina Kyle – aka Catwoman. Selina recently stole a pearl necklace from Bruce, and here she warns him about the consequences of the way the wealthy people of Gotham City spend their money.
    • Show the clip from The Dark Knight Rises:
      • Start time:       0.32.10 (in chapter 4 of the DVD)
      • End time:         0.34.45
      • Clip length:      2 minutes and 35 seconds
    • The clip starts with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) approaching a couple who are dancing and saying, ‘Mind if I cut in?’ It ends after Selina (Anne Hathaway) has left and Bruce says, ‘Not likely.’
    • The clip shows Selina arguing that the thieving does less harm than the legal activities of the wealthy elite. She claims to only steal from those who have more than they need, rather than hoarding so much wealth that others are forced to go without.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘Selina defends her illegal activities by claiming that she only steals from people who don’t need what she is taking, and she argues that the wealthy elite, like Bruce, have so much money that they force others to go without it. She warns Bruce that a storm is coming and that one day the rich will wonder how they could have allowed the poor to suffer for their own wealth and comfort.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Leaving aside Selina’s argument that it’s okay to steal from people who are well off – I don’t think it would stand up in court – let’s think about the problems caused by some people having ludicrous amounts of money and others having nowhere near enough.
    • Whether we like it or not, we live in a very unequal society. [click] The poorest 10% in the UK own approximately 1.3% of the UK’s wealth. The richest 10% own approximately 31%.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Although overall wealth in the UK has grown over the last ten years, over 80% of the extra wealth has gone to the half of the population that was already better off, [click] and 40% of the increase has gone to the richest 10%.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • In 1936, the gap between the richest and the rest started to decrease, [click] until 1979 when it started to get bigger again. It has gone on increasing ever since and is now as large as it has ever been since World War Two. Under governments of all political flavours, in Britain it has been the rich who are most likely to get richer.
    • So should we care about that? Whether you see yourself as one of the elite who will benefit from inequality, or one of the rest who suffers as a result of it, financial inequality is bad for everyone. A 2012 United Nations report concluded that a nation’s economy does better for everyone – rich and poor – when the wealth is shared more evenly. Wealth inequality isn’t only a bad thing for moral reasons, it’s also bad for the economy. Wealth inequality over the long-term prevents some people having access to education and leads to wasted potential.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • The idea that those with lots of money should think about those with less isn’t a new one. The Bible tells us that the early Christians used to share whatever they had with one another, making sure that everyone had what they needed:
    • All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2:44-45, New International Version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Before that, the Old Testament describes the way that Israelite society required the wealthy to make provision for the needy from their resources:
    • When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:9-10, New International Version.
    • It’s hard to imagine a farmer or a manufacturer today agreeing not to maximise it’s saleable output in order to leave something for the poor people to take free of charge. And yet, that was expected of the wealthy landowners, in order to ensure that the poorest in their communities were able to feed themselves and survive.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • I suspect that few if any of us here own a vineyard, so what are we supposed to do? Let me suggest that a first step is to recognise that globally speaking, we are part of the rich elite. [click] 40% of the world’s population live on less than £2 a day. The vast majority of people living in Britain would be placed in the world’s richest 10%. We are a lot better off than we think we are.
    • [click] Secondly, we all – rich and poor alike – would benefit from not thinking about wealth as something we are entitled to. How about if we think about it as something we are responsible for. I started by asking what you would spend an unexpected £10, or £1000, or £1,000,000 on. Would your answer be different if one day you were asked to account for how you spent it, to justify whether or not you put it to a good use? What if the person who gave you the money said it was only lent to you on the condition that you used it well? How comfortable would we be with the answers we gave if that were the case? If there is a God who made the world and who put humanity here to look after it, it’s not that difficult to think that one day he might ask us to explain what we’ve done with the things he entrusted to our care. [click]  If you’ve treated your wealth, great or small, as an opportunity to help those who need it, that conversation is likely to be a lot less uncomfortable.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Poverty Dark Knight Rises Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What would you do if you won £10 tomorrow?
      • Or £1,000?
      • Or £1,000,000?
      • Take suggestions and avoid criticising students’ answers.
      • It’s fun to plan how to spend money.
    • How many of us would spend a windfall on other people?
      • Some might spend on friends or family.
      • Most wouldn’t spend it on people we didn’t know.
      • Nothing wrong with that – or is there?
    • Introduce clip from The Dark Knight Rises:
      • Selina Kyle (Catwoman) warns Bruce Wayne that the rich will face consequences for how they spend their money.
      • Play the clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Let’s think about the problems of unequal wealth.
      • [click] The UK’s poorest 10% own 1.3% of the wealth; richest 10% own 31% of the wealth.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • 80% of increase in wealth has gone to the richer half of the UK population; [click] 40% to the richest 10%.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • 1936-1979: gap between rich and poor steadily decreased; [click] since 1979 it has steadily increased.
    • In Britain it is the rich who are likely to get richer.
    • Should we care about that?
      • Financial inequality is bad for everyone.
      • A national economy does better when wealth is shared evenly.
      • Wealth inequality leads to some losing access to education and to wasted potential.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • The rich thinking about the poor isn’t a new idea.
      • Bible tells us about early Christians sharing with one another.
    • All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2:44-45, New International Version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Old Testament included instructions for the rich to provide for the poor.
    • When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:9-10, New International Version.
    • Hard to imagine farmers or manufacturers today doing something similar.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Most of us don’t own vineyards: what should we do?
      • [click] Globally, we are part of the rich elite.
      • 40% of world’s population live on less than £2 a day.
      • Vast majority of UK population are in the world’s richest 10%.
      • [click] Think of wealth as something we are responsible for, not something we are entitled to.
      • Remind of answers to earlier question – would they be different if one day they had to justify how they spent the money?
      • If there is a God, he might one day ask us how we used the things he entrusted to our care.
      • [click] Treat wealth as an opportunity to help others.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for the good things you give us, for homes and security and the fact that we live in one of the richer nations on Earth. Help us not to take our wealth for granted, whether we are rich, poor or somewhere in between by British standards. Help us to see the things we have as an opportunity to help others, not as things purely for our own benefit. Amen.

Reflection

  • Where does your spending money come from? Do you get money given to you by parents or other people without having to earn it? What proportion of your money is spent on yourself, and what proportion on other people? How could you use your money to help others?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Fair Share script.
  3. Poverty Dark Knight Rises Talk PowerPoint.

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