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The Power of Words 2: Adding Insult to Injury

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider the impact of our words.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two speakers, who will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly. You will also need a group of students to make up the chorus.

  • Optional: you may wish to use the link to the website for the television programme, The Weakest Link (www.bbc.co.uk/weakestlink/), to choose some recordings of classic cutting remarks by the host, Anne Robinson. The following is a list of a few of these.
     
    - ‘One of you is not pulling your weight!
    - ‘Its time to vote off the weakest link!
    - ‘Its votes that count!
    - ‘Who is consistently letting you down?
    - ‘You are the weakest link - goodbye!

Assembly

Speakers 1 and 2 and the Chorus enter.

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 (very menacing): We are going to ask you totally embarrassing questions. We will make you beetroot-red with shame and disgust for all the times youve stabbed somebody in the back.

Speaker 1: And then well torment you some more. Well make you think about all those times someone has embarrassed and degraded you!

Speaker 2: Stabbed you in the heart!

Speaker 1: Kicked you where it hurts most! (Then, a complete change in tone - lightly) But first . . .

Speaker 2: Let’s remind you of a programme that used to regularly grace our TV screens . . .

Speaker 1: A classic programme with a frightening host . . .

Speaker 1 turns to the Chorus and gives them a signal (perhaps like the conductor of an orchestra). With the same intonation pattern used on the programme . . .

Chorus (loudly in unison): Lets play The Weakest Link!

Speaker 1 (lightly): Have you ever seen that programme on BBC - The Weakest Link?

Speaker 2 (lightly): I love that show.

Speaker 1 turns to the Chorus and gives them the same signal as before. With the same intonation pattern used on the programme . . .

Chorus: You are the weakest link - goodbye!

Speaker 1: Would you go on it as a contestant?

Speaker 2: No way! I wouldnt give anyone the chance to insult me like that.

Speaker 1: Dont you like being got at?

Speaker 2: Of course not. Who does? And it would be totally embarrassing to be the weakest link and get voted off.

Chorus: Its time to vote off the weakest link!

Speaker 2: I think its really obnoxious to like washing the floor with people.

Chorus: You are the weakest link - goodbye!

Speaker 2: I feel sorry for the losers when they walk off, totally rejected.

Speaker 1: Anne Robinson is just pretending to be like that - its all done with a wink. Like a game. After all, its a game show. She hasnt got any option. It wouldnt be the same if she was nice. (Sweetly and serenely) Sorry to see you go . . .

Chorus (sweetly and serenely - not like Anne Robinson): You did your very best. Bye-bye.

Speaker 1: See? That sounds silly.

Speaker 2: Anyway, lets get on with what were meant to be doing.

Speaker 1 (menacingly): Your deepest, darkest secrets . . .

Speaker 2 (directly to the audience): You see, we know what youre really like. You want people to think youre so good and clever and fair, but deep down, youre all mean and horrible!

Speaker 1: Maybe just some of them are like that . . .

Speaker 2: Its all of them! (To the audience) Just ask yourselves - whats the worst thing youve ever said to somebody? I bet youve said some really ugly things to people who didnt deserve your put-downs. One little slip and youre down on them like a ton of bricks. And making them feel small made you feel so big, didnt it? Come on, admit it!

Speaker 1 is surprised by Speaker 2s vehemence and tries to calm the situation.

Speaker 1: All were saying is: its a good idea to think about what youre saying before you say it. Think about how much you could hurt someone’s feelings. OK?

But Speaker 2 keeps up the tirade . . .

Speaker 2: Well, theyre just as bad, arent they? The ones who take insults to heart! (To the audience) Are you wimps, or what? Dont you realize that if you take it to heart - well - its your own fault for being too sensitive.

Speaker 1 (concerned): Youre going too far now. Some people cant help feeling upset if someone has a go at them.

Speaker 2: But theyre only words! ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words can never hurt me)’ and all that. If youre going to worry about what somebody else thinks of you, what youre 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, thats true.

Speaker 2 (more calmly): I’m just trying to make you see that maybe we should all have greater confidence in ourselves, rather than believing what other people say.

Speaker 1: But as well as that, maybe if we do find that we have insulted somebody, even if we didn’t mean to – we should at least have the guts to apologize.

Speaker 2: We need to think twice before we decide to viciously knife somebody in the back with our words. Once the damage is done, its no good saying, ‘Ooh, I was only joking.’ You have seriously hurt someone!

Time for reflection

Words can hurt people deeply. In the Bible, in the Book of James, there is a passage about the tongue being a very small part of the body, but a part that can cause a great deal of damage. Lets make the decision to be careful how we use words.

Christians believe that insults were heaped on Jesus when he did not deserve them. They believe that when people were mocking Jesus before he was crucified, he didnt run away from the truth. Instead, he stuck to what he believed, even though it caused him pain. He knew that it is what is inside someone that really counts.

In a few moments quiet, lets remember our own hopes, fears and anxieties - our hopes of success and our fears of failure. Let us think about what is light and dark, or 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. And that means we all have the potential to be the strongest link.

Publication date: October 2016   (Vol.18 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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