Human Goodness

Despite the indignities suffered by her and her family during the Holocaust, Anne Frank wrote in her diary that she “believe[d] that people are really good at heart.”As he recovered from the emotional and physical wounds that had been inflicted upon him during the genocide in his country, Gilbert Tuhabonye wrote: “If I were to place on a scale all the bad things that had happened to me and my family on one side and all the kindness and generosity on the other, the goodness in people would far outweigh the bad” (255).

Based on your own personal experiences, do you agree that goodness is a basic human quality? Why or why not?

Wealth and Happiness

Up until the time he left home to go to boarding school in the seventh grade, Gilbert Tuhabonye had never taken a shower before because there was no running water or other modern conveniences in his house. Yet, he felt happy and rich within the warm embrace of his family.

Why do you imagine this was so? In your opinion, what are the real keys to happiness and personal wealth?

Memory’s Scars

Survivors of genocides undoubtedly have emotional and physical scars that do not always heal. Of course, the physical scars can either fade or be removed. A concentration camp survivor had the serial number removed from her arm so that her grandchildren would not ask her any questions about World War II.

Do you agree with her action here? Would you have done the same thing? Why or why not?

Minority Status in a Mainstream Culture

It is not always easy to live in a country as a member of a minority group.What do you think? If you belong to a minority group, is it better for the group to be dependent on the dominant mainstream culture (because the people in this group are poor and uneducated and subservient as a result), or is it better for the group to be independent of the mainstream culture (because the people in this group are rich and educated and powerful as a result)? Is it also possible that both situations can be difficult to endure?

Positive and Negative Steretypes

Some people are flattered when they hear positive stereotypes about themselves, but they become enraged when they hear negative stereotypes about themselves. For instance, the French love to hear how elegant and stylish they are, but seethe when people say they are cold; the Germans are delighted to hear that they are an organized and efficient people, but are very unhappy when they are said to be materialistic; the Latinos like it when others call them romantic and sexy, but become angry when they are referred to as lazy.

Do you agree that positive stereotypes that flatter should be encouraged and negative stereotypes that diminish people’s image should be discouraged? Why or why not?

Storytelling in a Culture

In Burundi, children learn the stories of their ancestors through the songs that are sung while people work on projects together and meet to celebrate special events. These songs teach lessons that establish people’s identity, develop their moral fiber, and cement their belonging to the group.

In your culture, how do you learn the lessons that create your identity and make you more and more aware of your common heritage?