Main Point of Discussion: No matter how difficult the situation, we must be willing to speak up for what is right.
The Movie Clip: Stealing from the Blind
This video clip is an experiment that ABC News did in January, 2009 on what it takes for people to speak up when someone else is being wronged. In this social experiment, two actors were planted in a bakery, one as the clerk, the other a blind customer (although she really is blind). The blind customer would order a $16 cheesecake and pay 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 is being cheated. But, out of the seven or so customers in line, only one really speaks up to defend the blind lady.
Introducing the Clip:
We’re going to watch an interesting video clip from a social experiment done by ABC News. Basically, you’re going to see a store clerk swindle 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 off of the first three minutes and six seconds. Here’s the clip: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6746215
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 jump into our small groups to see what the Bible has to say about speaking up for what’s right in difficult situations.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE:As we begin, let’s all share our names and our favorite treat to get at a bakery.
- ASK A FEW: 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: What would you have probably done if you were in the bakery with the blind customer? Be honest.
- ASK A FEW: 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 has gathered many of God’s people (the Israelites) to help rebuild the walls around the city of 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 costs even more money to eat. And on top of this, the king has 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:
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.
It’s too often that fear creeps in, or that 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 is quickly joined up by several of the other customers. 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
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.