Ethos Education

What We Did On Our Holiday: Best Intentions

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Assembly Objective:

  • Is it okay to lie, as long as your intention is to avoid hurting other people? This assembly explores this difficult question and reflects on the Bible’s teaching about speaking the truth, in love.

Film:

  • What We Did On Our Holiday (Lionsgate, 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Respect derives from an underlying belief that everyone is valuable. But this raises the difficult question of whether we show that we value people and respect them by always telling them the truth, no matter how painful that might be for them.

OPENING ACTIVITY

How Truthful are You? (quiz)

Download the How Truthful PowerPoint with this activity.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Ask the students to answer the following questions to find out how truthful they really are. Read through the questions, asking students to indicate their preferred answer with a show of hands.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Question 1: A female friend asks if her bum looks big in her new dress. It does. What do you say?
    • [click] A: Yes, but that’s because her bum is big, whatever she wears.
    • [click] B: You compliment her on the attractive pattern on the dress and avoid the original question.
    • [click] C: You say that you didn’t notice, because you were too busy noticing how nice her new hairdo looks.
    • [click] D: No, it looks fine.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Question 2: On your way in to see an 18 certificate at the cinema, the man at the ticket office asks how old you are. What do you say?
    • [click] A: Admit the truth, and turn around to go home.
    • [click] B: You pretend not to have heard the question.
    • [click] C: You tell them that you are 18 years old.
    • [click] D: You roll your eyes and say that this happens to you all the time, before claiming to be 23 and producing a fake ID to prove it.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Question 3: Your teacher asks you why your homework is overdue again. What do you say?
    • [click] A: Admit that you haven’t done it yet, and you don’t know when you will. There’s just too much good stuff on TV this week.
    • [click] B: You admit that you haven’t handed it in, and say that you will bring it in tomorrow – carefully avoiding mentioning the fact that you haven’t done it yet.
    • [click] C: Tell the teacher that you have done the homework, but forgot to bring it in.
    • [click] D: Remind the teacher that you left it on their desk as requested at the end of the previous lesson. If she has lost your book, you will reluctantly accept an A grade by way of compensation.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Question 4: Your friend hides in a cupboard, asking you to deal with the bullies they are hiding from. When they ask if you have seen your friend, what do you say:
    • [click] A: Regretfully tell them that your friend is in the cupboard.
    • [click] B: Tell them that you saw him in registration, but don’t say that you have seen him more recently.
    • [click] C: Make up a story about having seen him heading for the playground.
    • [click] D: Tell them that your friend has transferred to a school in Australia.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Question 5: Your Dad appears in a YouTube video dancing exuberantly at a wedding, before falling over and landing in the wedding cake. It gets forwarded to all your friends. Do you:
    • [click] A: Tell them that the man in the video is your father.
    • [click] B: Laugh along and hope that nobody recognises your Dad.
    • [click] C: Delete the email and say that you didn’t receive it.
    • [click] D: Claim that it was you who posted it. Say that the man in the video turned up at a family wedding but you don’t know who he is.
    • Ask the students to decide which letter they found themselves choosing the most often – this will reveal their tendencies with regard to honesty and deceit.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Mostly A: You always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, no matter how much hot water it might land you – or other people – in.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Mostly B: You try to tell the truth, but have a tendency to be selective about which bits of the truth you are going to tell.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Mostly C: You mix things up, combining the truth with well-chosen white lies. Where’s the harm in that – particularly when it gets you out of trouble?
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Mostly D: Someone explained the idea of truth to you once, but you didn’t believe them. Lies are easier, more inventive and a lot more fun. Ever thought of a career in politics?

Dave’s Web of Lies (something to listen to)

  • Introduce the Dave’s Web of Lies PowerPoint by observing that much of the information on the Internet is unreliable – it may be true, it may be out of date or just plain wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to know which Internet facts to believe and which not to. One solution comes through the site Dave’s Web of Lies, which guarantees that every single fact in its database is a complete and utter fib.
  • The following lies all appear on the excellent website www.davesweboflies.com. And that’s not a lie.
  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • During the rule of Oliver Cromwell, middle names were illegal in England. As were belts.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Bath-water runs down the plughole in a clockwise spiral in the Northern hemisphere, whereas in the Southern hemisphere it magically transforms into Vimto.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • All the gold held in Swiss bank accounts is really chocolate wrapped in gold foil.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The French have developed a martial arts system based entirely around the use of baguettes.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Sorry is indeed the hardest word. The softest word is ‘flan’.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • There are only five hundred people on Earth. The rest are just holograms intended to intimidate would-be invaders.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • On the fourth night after every full moon, dogs find themselves prey to the irresistible urge to bark in Morse code.
  • After working through all the above lies for the entertainment of the students, explain that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the truth, and whether it matters whether or not we are honest with people.

FILM CLIP

  • What We Did On Our Holiday (Lionsgate, 2014, certificate 12).
  • Play the clip from What We Did on our Holiday:
    • Start time:       0.20.03 (in chapter 3 of the DVD)
    • End time:         0.22.21
    • Clip length:      2 minutes and 18 seconds
  • The clip starts with Gordie (Billy Connolly) saying, ‘That’s me, when I was twenty’. It ends with Gordie saying, ‘It’s also good fun.’ Make sure that you stop the clip promptly at this cue, as the example of lying being good fun that Gordie gives includes swearing.
  • The clip shows Lottie (Emilia Jones) discovering that her parents had been lying to her concerning the severity of her Grandad’s ill health. Grandad Gordie goes on to explain to her that sometimes lying, with good intentions, can be the right thing to do.

TALK

Download the Truth What We Did Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • There is a famous story about George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. When he was a young boy, the story goes, he took an axe to his father’s cherry tree, seriously damaging it. When confronted by his father, who asked if George knew who was responsible for the vandalism, George hesitated before replying, [click]  ‘I cannot tell a lie, father. It was I.’ His father responded by saying that George’s honesty was worth a thousand cherry trees, and let him off any further punishment.
    • Some historians have raised doubts as to whether this story is actually true, rather than being made up after Washington’s death in order to illustrate perceived virtues that the beloved national leader was meant to demonstrate. There’s a nice irony if a story that illustrates the value of truthfulness is, in fact, untrue.
    • Which leads us to today’s question: is telling the truth always a good thing? To help us consider that, here’s a film clip. Lottie is on holiday with her family, visiting her grandfather in Scotland. Mum and Dad are separated, although they are hiding that fact from their relatives. Grandad Gordie is dying, although they are hiding that fact from their children. In this scene, Lottie unwittingly discovers Gordie’s secret.
    • Play the clip from What We Did on our Holiday:
      • Start time:       0.20.03 (in chapter 3 of the DVD)
      • End time:         0.22.21
      • Clip length:      2 minutes and 18 seconds
    • The clip starts with Gordie (Billy Connolly) saying, ‘That’s me, when I was twenty’. It ends with Gordie saying, ‘It’s also good fun.’ Make sure that you stop the clip promptly at this cue, as the example of lying being good fun that Gordie gives includes swearing.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say:
      • ‘Gordie suggests that Lottie’s parents might be lying in order to protect her. He goes on to claim that it’s okay to lie as long as your intentions are good, giving examples of times when a lie is, in his opinion, the right thing to do.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Is that right? Is it true that it’s okay to lie as long as your intentions are good?
    • Well, perhaps. It’s certainly true that we should think about how our words will affect other people. Nobody wants to be told that the food they have just served up to you is horrible, or that they look ghastly in their new clothes or new haircut.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • But perhaps there’s a danger that when we start justifying our lies, we’ll be tempted not to tell the truth in other situations. Gordie started by saying that lies might be okay as long as they come from good intentions. That sounds great, but he also admitted that he lies to policemen about how fast he was driving his car – the only intention there is to get himself out of trouble. Suddenly, his willingness to lie is a bit less altruistic and a bit more self-serving.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The problem is that telling lies can become something of a habit; we get used to doing it, and it becomes easier and easier to wander away from the truth whenever it suits us, not just when it’s for the sake of other people. And going back to the idea of not hurting people’s feelings, would you rather your friend told you that you looked great, then let you go out in public looking ridiculous, or that they found a way to let you know that your latest fashion masterstroke was, in fact, an utter disaster? Sometimes a real friend is one who will tell you the uncomfortable truth.
    • I’d suggest that always telling the truth is a good habit to get into. For one thing, it’s arguably the right thing to do. For another, it’s simpler; if you always tell the truth you don’t have to try to remember which lies you’ve told to which people.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • How do we reconcile these two competing factors: the importance of telling the truth with the importance of not hurting other people? In the Bible, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to [click] ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15, New Living Translation). That’s a helpful guideline for us as we try to reconcile the need for honesty with the need not to be hurtful.
    • Speaking the truth in love means that we are honest, we don’t lie. It means not letting our friends make terrible mistakes in the name of sparing their feelings. At the same time, when we are being honest, we do it in a way that tries not to hurt them. We don’t laugh and sneer at their fashion mistakes, we don’t go around telling everyone how stupid they looked, but we gently suggest what might be better. Speaking the truth in love isn’t always easy, but it’s far far better for the people around us. Perhaps speaking the truth in love is a good way for us to be a bit more like George Washington, and a bit less like whoever it was that started the story about George Washington and the cherry tree.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Truth What We Did Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Famous story about George Washington.
    • As a young boy damaged his father’s cherry tree.
    • [click] When asked who did it, ‘I cannot tell a lie, father. It was I’
    • Father rewarded him for his honesty rather than punishing his vandalism.
    • Some historians doubt that the story is true.
    • Invented after GW’s death to illustrate his character.
    • Nice irony that a story praising truthfulness is, in fact, untrue.
    • Today’s question: is telling the truth always a good thing?
    • Introduce film clip:
      • Lottie on holiday with her family, visiting her Grandfather.
      • Mum and Dad are separated, but hiding it from wider family.
      • Grandad Gordie is dying, but they are hiding this from Lottie and the other children.
      • In this scene, Lottie discovers Gordie’s secret.
    • Play the clip from What We Did on our Holiday:
      • Start time:       0.20.03 (in chapter 3 of the DVD)
      • End time:         0.22.21
      • Clip length:      2 minutes and 18 seconds
    • The clip starts with Gordie (Billy Connolly) saying, ‘That’s me, when I was twenty’. It ends with Gordie saying, ‘It’s also good fun.’ Make sure that you stop the clip promptly at this cue, as the example of lying being good fun that Gordie gives includes swearing.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Is it okay to lie as long as your intentions are good?
    • Perhaps.
    • We should certainly think about how our words affect other people.
    • Nobody wants to be told their food is rubbish, or that they look ghastly.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • But perhaps there’s a danger in well-meaning lies.
    • It’s tempting to start lying in other situations.
    • Gordie admitted that he lies to policemen about how fast he drives.
    • Suddenly his lying is less altruistic and more self-serving.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Telling lies can become a habit.
    • We get used to it, and it gets easier and easier to do.
    • We end up doing it to suit ourselves, not others.
    • Well meant lies aren’t always helpful.
    • Would you prefer to be told you look awful, or to go out in public looking awful?
    • A real friend tells you the uncomfortable truth.
    • Telling the truth is a good habit to get into.
    • The right thing to do.
    • It’s simpler: you don’t have to remember what lies you’ve told.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • How do we combine the desire not to hurt people with the importance of telling the truth?
    • [click] The Bible says to ‘speak the truth in love’.
    • That’s a helpful guideline.
    • Speaking the truth in love means being honest, but doing it in a way that tries not to hurt others.
    • We don’t laugh or sneer at fashion mistakes, or tell everyone else about them.
    • We gently suggest ways to make things better.
    • Speaking the truth in love isn’t always easy, but it’s far better for the people around us.
    • A way to be more like George Washington and less like the person who made up the cherry tree story.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, help us to be willing to speak the truth in love to one another. Help us to resist the temptation to tell lies, even when the truth seems hard. Amen.

Reflection

  • How often do you tell lies? Who benefits from those lies? Who gets hurt by them? What could you do to be more honest on a daily basis?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. What We Did On Our Holiday (Lionsgate, 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. How Truthful PowerPoint.
  3. Dave’s Web of Lies PowerPoint.
  4. Truth What We Did Talk PowerPoint.

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