Our wonderful world is free for everyone
by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that the way we behave can affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
Preparation and materials
You will need a selection of tickets such as a train ticket, a cinema ticket and so on. You will also need a shiny piece of card that will act as a ‘magic ticket’.
Optional: you may wish to use the song ‘Ticket to ride’ by The Beatles, in which case, you will also need the means to play it.
Hold up each ticket in turn and ask if anyone can tell you what each ticket is for. Ask the children if they can think of any other occasions when they might need a ticket.
Hold up the shiny ticket and explain that you want the children to imagine that this is a magic ticket that can take them anywhere they would like to go! Ask the children for suggestions as to where they would like to go. Allow a short time for discussion.
Tell the children that a man called Sir Thomas More published a book many years ago called Utopia. The story below imagines a perfect world like More’s book suggested, but the story has an interesting twist.
There was once a land called Utopia. Everyone was happy. They all worked hard at the things they were good at. There was no money, so they shared the land and people exchanged their goods. The baker gave her bread in exchange for meat, fish, clothes or any other things she needed. Gardeners made the place look beautiful in exchange for boots from the cobbler, beef from the butcher or coal from the miners. There was no greed, no envy.
Then one day, three people came from a distant land. One of them opened a bank and taught people about money. One of them set up as a lawyer and taught people how to quarrel. The third one paid a lot of money to people and bought up most of the land and buildings. He wouldn’t allow them to go anywhere unless they bought a ticket.
Money brought greed and envy, injustice and quarrels. Utopia was no longer a happy place. The people seemed to need a ticket to do anything or go anywhere.
A doctor, who had always treated his patients in exchange for goods, made a speech to the people reminding them that their peace and happiness had gone because they no longer helped one another for love.
So the people chased the banker, the lawyer and the developer out of their country and went back to their old ways. They pulled down the bank and the lawyer’s office, and tore up all the tickets they’d been forced to buy. Everything was free again and they were happy.
There is still a country somewhere called Utopia, but nobody has ever found it again.
This story shows what problems the people had when they were made to buy tickets. However, tickets are necessary today to make sure that things are organized, so that the correct number of people can get a seat on a train, on an aeroplane, at a concert or at a football match. We even have to issue tickets for our school concerts to make things fair and to check how many parents we can fit into the hall.
Listen to this poem called ‘The Ticket’ by Jan Edmunds.
You have to have a ticket in order to get in,
When going to a stadium where you hope your team will win.
When making a journey on a train or flying in an aeroplane
A ticket means you can be sure that it will get you through the door.
So many things in life are free, like the colours in nature that we see.
A world full of beauty that we can share, which is all the more reason we should care.
No ticket is needed, there is no fee, it’s all given freely for you and me.
How we preserve it and the things we do are our ticket to the future and life anew.
(It might help to discuss the poem so that the children understand its message.)
Time for reflection
Let’s think about the events that we go to for which we need to buy a ticket.
Concerts, football matches, dancing displays [add anything here that your children participate in].
Now let’s think about all the things that we don’t need a ticket for. (You might like to take suggestions.) Examples include friendship, our families and the world outside, in all its beauty.
We take so much for granted.
Sometimes, we expect to have expensive things that cost money and we complain when we can’t have what we want.
Help us to be grateful for everything we have.
Help us to be generous and to give our love and our friendship without asking for anything in return.
Thank you for the beauty of the world that is free for everyone to enjoy.
‘For the beauty of the earth’ (Come and Praise, 11)