Lesson Six: Solidarity, Friendship and Human Decency

Students will consider why cooperation and human decency is necessary for any system of rule.

FL1(a) - Identify the influence of societal worldviews on the organization of historical and contemporary legal systems.

FL1(j) - Debate criteria for just laws and systems of justice and apply to scenarios and case studies.

FL1(i) - Compare the purposes and functions of law and the justice system in Canadian society today with traditional Indigenous approaches to law and justice (e.g., restorative vs. punitive justice).

1. Discuss with class what it means to be decent. How would common decency create justice?

2. As a class, read "Solidarity, Friendship, and the Real Lord of the Flies."

• How would organised activities and exercise contribute to the well-being of the boys? How would it contribute to the well-being of a society?
• Why would isolated timeouts have worked for the boys when they argued? Could similar measures help our society?
• Consider how the boys helped their injured friend, and looked after his work while he healed. What does this tell us about the importance of universal heath care and providing workers with sick leave?

3. Have students consider Discuss questions either individually or in small groups.

4. Lead summary discussion of the boys’ experience. Topics could include:
• How did the experience of the Tongan boys resemble Lord of the Flies? How did it differ?
• What specific commonalities and differences can you find between the Tongan boys’ experience and the experience of the Grafton castaways?

5. In Albert Camus' book The Plague, the lead character says “the only means of fighting a plague is – common decency.” For another look at how common decency can shape systems of rule, check out Albert Camus’ The Plague: The Learning Resource.

6. Australia’s public broadcaster ABC has a short feature from 2020 on the experience of the Tongan castaways.

7. Rutger Bregman discusses the experience of the boys in more detail in his book Humankind. Find it at your public library.

8. One of the earliest stories of the Tongan boys’ appeared in Pacific Islands Monthly, October 1966. The article is available on the National Library of Australia’s archive Trove.

9. A 1966 documentary by Australia’s Channel 7, The Castaways, recounts the Tongan boys’ experience.

Solidarity, Friendship, and the Real Lord of the Flies


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