Choose Kind

Being I am a secondary English education major, I am quite familiar with young adult  (YA) literature. While I love classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Jane Eyre, I also love to submerse myself in YA books such as The Fault in Our Stars and 13 Reasons Why. A few months ago, I read the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. Wonder is a fictional story about a boy named August (Auggie) Pullman. Auggie was born with a severe genetic facial deformity. He has had dozens of surgeries in his short lifetime and he has never attended public school; he has only been homeschooled by his mother. He is about to enter the fifth grade and decides to begin school. It is at school Auggie must deal with the difficulties of bullying and rejection because of his appearance. If any of this sounds familiar, but you have not read the book, it's probably because you heard that the movie just came out, starring Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Jacob Tremblay. 

This past week, my sixth grade students took a field trip to see this movie. This movie, although it changed some aspects of the book, portrayed extremely well what Auggie endured. I cried the whole time. Auggie is teased and tormented and treated like an outcast by most kids. It takes only a couple of students to turn this around for him. He has a teacher, Mr. Browne, who writes what he calls a "precept" or rule on the board each month. One of them says, "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." This becomes a whole motto for the book and actually appears on the movie poster. 

"Choose kind." These two simple, yet powerful words apply so much to our society today. We are always going to meet someone that is different from us. This book is sending a message to young adults that they should choose to be kind and selfless over being right and arrogant. I think this message applies to anybody, young or old. Whether we meet someone with a facial deformity, or a physical disability, or even a mental illness, we should always choose to be kind. Kind to those whose political views differ from our own. Whose religious views differ from our own. Whose ideas on parenting and education and relationships and finances differ from our own; it doesn't matter: we should always choose kind.