Group work on Manchild in the Promised Land

Note: If you were not in class for this group exercise, please complete it as a written exercise and turn it in as soon as you can.

Break up into small groups. Discuss your answers to the following. Delegate one or more members of your group to prepare an oral summary of your group's discussion.

1. Do you know someone (I'll use the name 'N') who tries to talk people out of their hopes, dreams, or ambitions? Describe their behavior. Does it ever extend into racism or something like it? Why or why not?  How does N's actions reflect N's own life and experience?

2. Have you met a person (I'll use the name 'Y') who has decided that one of their missions in life is to help others toward finding and achieving their hopes, dreams, or ambitions, the kind of person who would say, for example (to someone who said they wanted to practice medicine) "Given your situation, what is the best way for you to become a physician?" How does Y's philosophy reflect Y's own life and experience? 

3. Was Claude Brown called to his vocation? How was he trained? Is there a sense in which his entire life was leading to his mission? What do you think of the idea of having a calling?

4. Have you ever met anyone who had a calling and heeded it? What happened?

5. Have you ever met anyone who had a calling and tried to avoid it or was prevented from fulfilling it by others? What happened?

6.  In any of the examples discussed above, do you see a pattern that creates or maintains a situation of injustice?  (If so, or if not), how do those in (and out of) power respond to this sort of thing?

Michael Kagan, for Philosophy 403, Heroism and the Human Spirit
Last revised Feb. 22, 2004.

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