Once and for all you can know there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it. – A. Miller
One of the challenges highlighted in history and in literature is striking the balance between individual and societal rights and responsibilities; between personal goals and societal needs; between personal ambition and the common good; between personal values and social values.
Beyond Personal Goals–Individual, Group, and Societal Responsibility
What are our responsibilities to others?
- What is our place in society?
- What are our responsibilities to self? To society? To future generations?
- How do we balance self-preservation with concern for others?
- What are our individual rights and responsibilities? What might be our responsibilities and rights as members of particular groups within society?
- What are our societal rights and responsibilities? Does society count on us as individuals? If so how?
- What actions are expected of individuals within a society?
- How does society ensure there is respect for both individuals and for groups?
Dealing with Universal Issues, such as Truth and Justice
What is “truth” and what is “justice”?
- How do we define “truth” and “justice”?
- What are the important truths in life?
- How do we find truth? How do we tell right from wrong?
- What are the rights of all?
- Why is justice often hard to achieve? Is justice fair? Infallible?
- Why does justice sometimes “sting”? How do we remedy injustice?
- Are there situations in which it is more just to treat people differently than to treat them the same?
Ambition, Power, and the Common Good
What is the nature of ambition and power?
- What gives a person status? Is status achieved the same way in all societies? Within a society?
- How do ambition and power drive us? How do they challenge us?
- What is meant by “the common good”? Who decides what the common good is? Is the common good best for every individual in a society?
- What is the appeal of being in the position of “ruling” other people? What disadvantages accompany being the authority figure?
- How does lack of power affect particular individuals or groups?
- What is the reality of being colonized or “ruled”?
- What is the advantage in treating others as we wish they would treat us? Why is this often difficult?
Social Criticism–Conformity and Nonconformity/ Resistance
What is social criticism?
- What societal issues concern us?
- What is the purpose of social criticism?
- What is conformity? What is nonconformity? What is meant by “the status quo”? What is rebellion? Do different people define these differently? Are they manifested differently in different societies?
- What is the role of the state in Canada? What is the role of the individual or groups within the state?
- How should the state treat its citizens? Is this the same in every country?
- What is the relationship between the individual and the state in Canada? In other countries?
- What are the shortcomings of Canadian society? How can we, as citizens, address them?
- Why do some individuals or groups challenge the system while others abide with it? What is political protest? How does Canadian society treat nonconformity? Rebellion? Is rebellion risky in Canada as compared to other countries? Why or why not?
- How does Canadian society respond to challenges?
Addressing the Issues–Causes and Crusades
How can we make the world a better place?
- What matters most to us as individuals? As groups? As a society?
- Do all people tackle causes in their lifetimes? Why or why not? What causes might our generation tackle?
- What do people do when faced with a decision between advancing a cause and doing what they believe is right?
- Are there situations in which individuals might challenge authority? What are some responsible ways of challenging authority?