The Power of Words 3
The weakest link – adding insult to injury
by An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the effects of words and how we should think before we cause damage.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two speakers. Speaker 1 is to be a moderate realist, while Speaker 2 is to be a fervent cynic.
- You could also arrange for a whole class to be at the front, but behind Speakers 1 and 2, and speak up at the points in the assembly marked ‘All together’, as the more voices there are to say these words, in unison, the better the effect. Also arrange for one member of this group to say the single line given in the script for the assembly to ‘Complainer’. If this is not arranged, the leader will need to mention at the beginning of the assembly that, when the speaker gives the signal, the audience is to repeat what he or she says. Arrange, too, for someone to say the line for ‘Complainer’.
- As background, you could visit the website for the TV programme The Weakest Link, at: www.bbc.co.uk/weakestlink There you can see whole episodes or clips of some of the contestants being grilled by Anne Robinson, who is known for making cutting remarks, such as, ‘One of you is not pulling your weight!’, ‘It's time to vote off the weakest link!’, ‘It's votes that count!’, ‘Who is consistently letting you down?’ and the classic, ‘You are the weakest link – goodbye!’
- Familiarize yourself with Luke 11.33–35 and have it ready to read at the end of the assembly.
Have Speakers 1 and 2 come to the front, plus, behind them, those chorusing the ‘All together’ parts, if this has been arranged. If not, inform the audience that, when the speaker gives the signal, they are to repeat what he or she says.
Speaker 1: (Melodramatically.) Prepare to be shocked! We are here to pry into your inner being . . . your darkest soul . . . to reveal your fears and frustrations.
Speaker 2: (Being fervently menacing.) We're going to probe deep inside you, ask totally embarrassing questions and make you beetroot red with shame and disgusted at yourself for all the times you've stabbed somebody in the back.
Speaker 1: Then we'll torment you some more – make you think about all those times someone has embarrassed and downgraded you!
Speaker 2: Stabbed you in the heart!!
Speaker 1: Kicked you where it hurts most! (Then, completely changing tone, say lightly . . .) But first . . .
Speaker 1 turns to those behind, if this has been arranged, and gives them a signal (perhaps like the conductor of an orchestra). Otherwise, just facing the audience, with the same intonation used on the TV programme The Weakest Link, everyone then says the following.
All together: (Loudly, in unison.) Let's play The Weakest Link!
The atmosphere changes completely as Speakers 1 and 2 play two people having a conversation.
Speaker 1: (Lightly.) Have you ever seen that programme on BBC TV – The Weakest Link?
Speaker 2: (Lightly.) I love that show.
Speaker 1: Would you go on it as a contestant?
Speaker 2: No way! I wouldn't give anyone the chance to insult me like that.
All together: (Said like Anne Robinson.) One of you is not pulling your weight!
Speaker 1: Don't you like being got at?
Speaker 2: Of course not. Who does? It would be totally embarrassing to be the weakest link and get voted off.
All together: (Said like Anne Robinson.) It's time to vote off the weakest link! It's votes that count! Who is consistently letting you down?
Speaker 2: I think it's really obnoxious to like washing the floor with people.
All together: You are the weakest link – goodbye!
Speaker 2: I feel sorry for the losers when they walk off, totally rejected.
Speaker 1: She's just pretending to be like that . . . It's all done with a wink. Like a game. After all, it's a game show. She hasn't got any option. It wouldn't be the same if she was nice – (sweetly and serenely) ‘Sorry to see you go . . .’
All together: (Very unlike Anne Robinson, sweetly and serenely.) You did your very best. Bye-bye.
Speaker 1: See, that sounds silly.
Speaker 2: Maybe you're right.
Complainer: (Jumps up and complains.) Oi! When will you get to the bit where you probe deep into our darkest souls? That sounds interesting.
All together: Ask totally embarrassing questions!
Speaker 2: (Rudely.) OK, OK! Keep your hair on, you bunch of airheads without a brain between you!
The members of the group behind the speakers, if there is one, look shocked and put down.
Speaker 2: (Turns to the audience and adopts the menacing voice used at the beginning once more.) As for you lot – we know what you're really like. You want people to think you're so good and clever and fair, but, deep down, you're all mean and horrible!
Speaker 1: (Moderating.) Some of them maybe.
Speaker 2: (Just getting into your stride.) All of them! (To audience.) Just ask yourself – what's the worst thing you've ever said to somebody? I bet you've said some really ugly things to people who didn't deserve your put-downs. One little slip and you're down on them like a ton of bricks. Making them feel small made you feel so big, didn't it? Come on, admit it!
Speaker 1 (Surprised by Speaker 2's vehemence, tries to calm the situation.) All we're saying is, it's a good idea to think about what you're saying before you say it. Think about how much it might hurt their feelings? OK?
Speaker 2: (Keeps up the tirade.) Well, they're just as bad, aren't they – the ones who take insults to heart?! (To audience.) Are you wimps or what? Don't you realize that if you take it to heart, well, it's your own stupid fault for being too sensitive.
Speaker 1: You're going too far. Some people can't help feeling upset if someone has a snide go at them.
Speaker 2: So wake up!
All together: You are the weakest wimp – goodbye!
Speaker 2: It's only words! ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ and all that. If you're going to worry about what somebody else thinks of you, what you're saying is that their opinion is more important than your own opinion of yourself. Where is that going to get you in life?
Speaker 1: Well, that's true.
Speaker 2: When they put Jesus up on the cross and people were mocking him, he didn't wimp out and think to himself, ‘Oooooo, why are they being so nasty to me?’ No! He stuck to what he believed in – and you lot should stick to what you believe in! Get a life!!
Speaker 1: Yeah! Get a life! Also, if you do find yourself insulting somebody without meaning to, at least have the guts to apologize.
Speaker 2: So, think twice the next time you decide to viciously knife somebody in the back. Once the damage is done it's no good saying, ‘Oooo, I was only joking!’ – you damaged a person!
Speaker 1: Also – just a small thought – what happens when God looks and sees you doing that? Maybe God wonders if . . .
All together: (Like Anne Robinson.) You are the weakest link!
Speakers 1 and 2 and all together: Goodbye!
Everyone laughs and rushes off the stage or away from the performance area.
Leader: Insults were heaped on the shoulders of Jesus when he did not deserve them. He knew, though, it is what is inside someone that really counts, what someone's intentions are. He described how what we do reflects what we are inside in Luke 11.33–35.
Time for reflection
In a few moments of quiet, let's remember our own hopes, fears and anxieties – our hopes of success, our fears of failure, our anxieties that we will not be able to show ourselves at our best, others will make themselves feel better at our expense . . .
Let us think about what is light and dark, weak and strong in our own lives.
May we realize that, whether we feel we are the weakest link or not, we are still loved by God, which means we all have the potential to be the strongest link.