What We Have in Common

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Youth Activity: Youth explore the meaning of "common good," which is part of the definition of philanthropy.

"A community is only as good as its most unhealthy part." - anonymous

Print50 minutes

Youth will

  • explore the meaning of "taking action for the common good."
  • get to know one another.
Teacher Preparation 

Display the definition of philanthropy: "thoughtful, intentional, and ongoing giving of one's time, talent, and treasure for the common good."

Home Connection 

Ask participants during the next week to consider their actions in light of the common good. Ask them to decide if their actions contribute to the common good or distract from it. Examples might include how they treat classmates at school or other members of their family.


In each organization and community there are many commonalities among people, but often we focus on the differences among people. Once we recognize our similarities, a team, composed of diverse individuals, can begin to take on projects which serve the common good of the organization and community.


  1. What would the list of commonalities look like if we considered everyone in this room?
  2. How would the list look if we considered everyone from a given community or state?
  3. What are the common things that all people want in life? Examples might be safety, shelter, love, education, belonging, friends, caring community, etc.


  1. Tell the students to pair up. The pair’s assignment is to identify things they have in common; things that are not obvious. Instruct the pairs they will have two minutes to identify everything they have in common. Instruct one person to take notes as they name all the things they have in common. Example: They both have two siblings; they both like a certain kind of music; they both have or had golden retriever dogs. The facilitator keeps the amount of discussion time brief so the exercise keeps moving.

  2. Have the pair with the most things in common share with the entire group. The pairs are then challenged to find another pair and form a quad. Again, the instruction is to find things that the four of them have in common in just two minutes. The quad with the most responses will share with the large group.

  3. Depending on the size of the group, this exercise can continue on to form groups of eight, sixteen, etc.

  4. When we talk about the “common good” what are the key words that help us understand what we mean when we say the “common good”? Write these words on flip chart paper. Make sure that words given represent consideration of others and not just ourselves when we act. You may ask for examples of considering the common good at home, school, church or your organization.

  5. The facilitator explains, “As human beings we have certain needs and desires in common. Understanding that we have these things in common helps us begin to care for the common good. The common good is the ability to look at the world with a wide view to see what is good for as many people as possible.”