An exercise designed to investigate value based conflict, decision making, highlights the challenges of establishing right and wrong with different perspectives.
White or chalk board or flip chart and writing utensil The story printed out, one for each participant.
Alligator River Story Long ago and not so very far away, there lived in the town of lzodville, a young couple. Skip and Buffy were engaged to be married and Buffy, for reasons known only to her, insisted that she remain "pure" until the day of their wedding. Skip, while chafing under his imposed chastity, admired Buffy for her principles and loved her all the more.
Skip and Buffy's courting was complicated somewhat by the fact that Izodville was separated by a large river which teemed with man (and woman!) -eating alligators. Indeed, it was dangerous even to wander near the river's banks for fear of being snapped up by one of the ferocious beasts. However the town's forefathers (and mothers) had constructed a bridge over Alligator River (for that is what it was called) so that townspeople could traverse from one side to the other. Thus it was that Skip and Buffy crossed the bridge to be in each other's company.
All was not to remain so peaceful in Izodville. One spring a tremendous flood came roaring down Alligator River. (Some speculated that the LaCoste Dam had finally given way). While, thank heavens, little damage was done to the town, the single bridge was completely destroyed. A proposal for a new bridge was submitted to the Town Council. However with a controversy over sales tax distribution, protest from environmentalists and the requirements for sealed bids, it soon became clear that actual construction on the new bridge would not begin for quite some time.
Buffy could not tolerate being separated from Skip. Daily they would stand on the banks of the river and sadly wave at each other, while keeping a sharp eye out for the hungry alligators. Finally in desperation Buffy sought out Sinbad, the town's only sailor. She asked Sinbad if he would ferry her across the river so that she could be with her beloved. Sinbad agreed, but stipulated in the fine print of his contract that Buffy spend the night and bestow upon him her considerable favors.
Buffy was thrown into a quandary and sought advice of Old Norman who wrote a column for the local newspaper. Old Norman, however, refused to give her advice, claiming that it was none of his concern. He turned his back and went back to his typing. Not knowing what else to do, Buffy went back to Sinbad's penthouse and signed the contract.
The following day, true to his word, Sinbad ferried Buffy across the river. Skip was delighted to see his intended! After a long embrace Buffy, consumed with guilt, confessed that she paid her fare across the river with her virtue. Horrified, Skip pushed Buffy away and told her that he wanted nothing to do with her!
Buffy was crushed! She wandered along the river's edge, seriously considering becoming a reptilian entree, when she met Sluggo. Sluggo asked what was wrong and when Buffy sobbed out the whole story, Sluggo rushed over to Skip's house and severely beat him up. __
Facilitator: write the ranking scale on board for all to see Characters: Buffy Skip Old Norman Sinbad Sluggo
Scale: 1 = least reprehensible 5 = most reprehensible
o Break into equal small groups
o Each person read the story (5 min) o Each person rate the characters based on the scale below (5 min) o Each small group then collectively ranks the characters (15-20 min) o Assign 1 spokesperson from each small group to share their final rankings (facilitator writes selections on the board) (5 min) o Large group debrief; see below (15-30 min)
- If time allows have the large group create consensus on final character rankings.
Suggested debrief questions:
1. What did you consider when making your rankings… a. as an individual b. as a group c. as a large group
2. How did your group come to decide on your final rankings?
3. What was your reaction when there was disagreement on the rankings?
4. What did you learn about yourself from this exercise?
5. How does this exercise impact how you make decisions that may feel “right” to you but others or the law say it is wrong?