What Goes Around, Comes Around
To consider how our actions have a wider effect than we may realise
by Stuart Yeates
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To consider how our actions have a wider effect than we may realize.
Preparation and materials
- You may want to reflect on the Eastern idea of karma, whereby our actions are revisited upon us. A useful introductory article about this can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma
- Begin by asking if anyone has ever heard the phrase ‘What goes around, comes around’.
- Suggest that everything we do or leave undone and every time we speak or keep silent can have consequences far beyond anything we may realize. A careless word, for instance, may end a long-standing friendship, and failing to keep a promise might mean we are never trusted again. The chances are that the way we act towards others will return to us in some way, for better or for worse.
- By way of example, tell your audience the following story (please note that this story might be apocryphal rather than true):
One day Mr Fleming, a poor Scottish farmer, heard a cry for help coming from a marsh near to his farm. He dropped his tools and ran to the marsh. There, stuck up to his waist in mud, was a frightened boy, screaming and struggling to get himself free. Farmer Fleming saved the young man from what could have been a slow and horrifying death.
The next day, a posh horse and carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s meagre house and a smartly dressed gentleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’ ‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the farmer replied. At the same moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family home. ‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked. ‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly. ‘I’ll make a deal with you. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the boy is anything like his father, he’ll grow up to be a man you can be proud of.’
And he did just that. In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the famous Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin – a drug which over the last century has saved more lives than any other.
Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was suffering from pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.
- As you can see, one loving action resulted in another, which then benefited the giver again.
- The Bible contains much advice about getting back the kind of behaviour we show to others:
- Jesus said, ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.’ (Matt. 7.1–2)
- In the form of the ‘Golden Rule,’ this becomes, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6.31)
- ‘As I have seen, those who plough wickedness and sow trouble reap the same.’ (Job 4.8)
- ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for you reap whatever you sow.’ (Gal. 6.7)
- So if ‘what goes around comes around’, make sure you send love, goodwill, and friendship.
Time for reflection
Imagine everything you have ever done –
Every time you have met another person,
Every word you have ever said,
Every good deed you have ever done,
Every time you have acted out of love for another person,
Every wrong thing you have ever done,
Every time you have hurt another human being through your words or actions.
Now think about the ripples these activities may have sent out –
Consider the effects your behaviour has had on the lives of others,
Reflect on the consequences of everything you have ever done.
Remember every deed you do can come back to haunt you.
What actions would you not want returned to you?
Live in such a way that you are pleased if they do.
Forgive us, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day we have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where we had the opportunity but missed it; and enable us so to live that we may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness.
(adapted from F B Meyer (1847–1929))
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)