Be someone’s WONDERful

Posted: June 1, 2017 in Inspiration, Uncategorized

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Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the  world. – Auggie

In the past few weeks, I saw the trailer to the movie Wonder with Julia Roberts and it looked amazing. It is one of those trailers that when you see it, you automatically get goose bumps and chills. I told my wife immediately, when this movie comes out, we have to go see it. The English teacher in me also said, you must read the book before you see the movie. There is nothing better than visualizing the story through your eyes before you see someone else’s interpretation.  So I bought the book, and yesterday morning, while on the plane to a meeting, I started reading it. Less than 24 hours later, I made sure I finished it. The impact? Immense!

The amazing and touching story of Auggie, a boy who is different and unique, who is often mistreated for the way he looks. Many prevalent school and life-related themes and issues arise when reading this book: bullying, kindness, courage, friendship, love, judgement.  English teachers for many years have debated the “literature canon” and what should be taught in schools; when you read Wonder, the reflection suddenly turns to why are we not reading this in our schools.

Auggie’s journey and his experiences are both enriching and heart-braking. As I intently read every word, one passage ripped my heart out. One character, Auggie’s friend says:

“I can’t imagine looking in the mirror every day and seeing myself like that. It would be too awful. And getting stared at all the time.”

“and I really think…if I looked like him seriously, I think that I’d kill myself”.

As I read these words, I filled with emotions and tears rolled down my cheek. How many of our students and how many people around us walk around every day feeling this broken? To some, it is the way they look; comments about their hair, body type, facial features, etc. To others, it is comments about how they look on the inside; the choices they make, the friends they have or do not have, their religion or beliefs, etc. Everyone has a certain image or perception of themselves. This image is often thwarted or modified based on our relationships or on constant comments made from people around us.

This book needs to be read by everyone. A dialogue needs to be started. A reflection ought to take place. We can no longer hide behind ignorance, inaction, blame or traditions.  Kindness, love, compassion, empathy, these are all values we get to choose and they should be part of how we teach and how we build relationships.

You never know what is hiding behind someone’s smile. You never know what someone has lived that morning, in the past or the anguish they are going through. We all need to be more aware, more caring and better people. It is up to us to make the difference in someone’s life.

So as the end of the school year approaches or for some, has just concluded, reflect on how compassion and love will become regular priorities in your life, in your class and in your school. Do not judge, do not abandon, do not mock. Everyone has worth. It is up to us to make their worth shine, to nurture it and to protect it. If we don’t, the end result could be dangerous. So take the challenge! Be there for others, celebrate them, love them and build them up. For some, it may simply be an affirmation of self-worth, for others, it will define their existence.  Remember, everyone deserves a standing ovation once in their lifetime.

Comments
  1. lisamnoble says:

    I had one of these moments in my staff room yesterday. We were talking about the number of young women we had taught in elementary school who had gotten pregnant in their first or second year of high school. And yet….I talked of how ha d it had been to be a first time mom at 34, and how I had struggled with post-partum depression. To my amazement, other women around the table began to share their own similar experiences. We don’t know what’s behind the smile, but when we share our challenges, we can begin a conversation.

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