Stealing From the Blind
Speaking Up for Others; Our Actions
An ABC TV News Clip
Main Point of Discussion:
No matter how difficult the situation, we must be willing to speak up for what is right.
Vital Info Before You Get Started:
(The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
Introducing the Clip:
- This video clip is an experiment that ABC News did in January 2009 on what it takes for people to speak up when someone is wronged. In this social experiment, two actors are planted in a bakery—one as the clerk, the other a blind customer (although she really is blind). The blind customer orders a $16 cheesecake and pays with a fifty-dollar bill. The clerk, who should give $34 in change, only hands the lady six one-dollar bills. The customer asks the clerk to count out the bills and tell her which bill is which. All of this happens in front the other customers who see she’s being cheated. But out of the seven or so customers in line, only one really speaks up to defend the blind lady.
- Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
We’re going to watch an interesting video clip—a store clerk swindles a blind customer out of her change after she purchases a cheesecake. There are several things you could focus on while watching this clip, but I want you to focus on the other customers in line. Pay close attention to their reactions. A lot of them see what the clerk is up to, but are they willing to speak up?
Though you can show the entire clip, this discussion is only based on the first three minutes and six seconds. Here’s the clip: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6746215
(Watch Suggested Clip)
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What’s going on with the bystanders in this clip?
A: Out of the seven or so customers in line, only one really speaks up to defend the blind lady.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to the behaviors we saw in this clip?
A: We should be reminded that Jesus cared for those who needed help—in fact, not only did he heal the blind, but he also cured lepers, forgave adulterers and tax collectors and the thief on the cross next to him—and all of us.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
A: We should be convicted about times when we didn’t stand up for those who needed help or were being taken advantage of in front of our eyes—and ask God’s help to be voices for justice from now on.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.
It’s pretty interesting to see how many people just stood and watched the blind woman get cheated. It was sad that some were actually amused by all this. But there was one lady who actually stepped out of line and spoke up. If you’ve ever been in a real situation like this one depicted here, you know it can be tough to be the only one to speak up. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about speaking up for what’s right in difficult situations.
More Discussion Questions:
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Have any of you ever been in a situation similar to the one in the bakery? What happened? What did you do?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Why do you think some of the people in line didn’t speak up?
Grab your Bible and open up to the book of Nehemiah. Before we read from chapter 5, I need to give you a little background on what’s happened in the story. Nehemiah gathered many of God’s people (the Israelites) to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, because years earlier, it had been taken over by their enemies and destroyed.
As if the job of rebuilding an entire city wall wasn’t enough trouble, in the middle of the project, food becomes scarce, which meant it now cost even more to eat. And on top of this, the king put a high tax on the Israelites! A lot of the people working in Jerusalem were getting poorer and poorer, while the richer ones were taking advantage of the poor people and lending them money at HUGE interest rates. These people are hurting. Let’s find out what happens when Nehemiah hears of this scam.
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Put yourself in Nehemiah’s shoes, and think about all the people he had to stand up to. Think about that moment right before he started talking. What do you think was going through his mind? What would that have been like?
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How do you suppose he mustered up courage?
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are the risks and rewards of standing up and speaking up for what is right in tough situations?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: Are you normally someone who can stand up to people when they are doing wrong, or is it a little tough for you? (NOTE TO PARENT: You may want to start out by talking about yourself, especially if you have a hard time standing up for what’s right. That way, your family members might be less apprehensive about being honest about their fears.)
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What would this world be like if we all stood up for what is right?
HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What will it take for you to be like Nehemiah this week, speaking up even in the toughest situations?
Nehemiah 5:1-13 (New Living Translation)
About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. 2They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.”
3Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.”
4And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. 5We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
6When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. 7After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
8At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
9Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of charging interest. 11You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”
12They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised.
13I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you like this from your homes and from your property!”
The whole assembly responded, “Amen,” and they praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.
It is so hard to speak up when everyone else is silent. There have been times when I’ve seen someone get made fun of, or taken advantage of, or ripped off, and I didn’t do anything about it. In fact, there have been times when, after it was all over, I talked to someone else who also witnessed the incident. We talked about how awful it was, but we hadn’t done anything to stand against it. What a shame.
Too often fear creeps in, or we just simply wait to see if someone else will stand up for what’s right. But as God’s children, we are called to speak out and bring what’s right into this world. We have to stand together and be like Nehemiah, taking risks by speaking up, even when it’s tough. Later in the news clip with the blind customer at the bakery, there is a part where one woman speaks out against the clerk, and several other customers quickly join her.
People are just waiting for someone like you to speak up. We have to be courageous and stand up for what’s right. Others will follow!
Close in Prayer
Written by Matt Furby
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