Friday, January 19, 2007

"Freedom Writers" Illustrates the Power of Hope

Yesterday my wife and I saw the Hillary Swank movie, “Freedom Writers”. I was pleasantly surprised at how inspiring the story is. The story line itself is predictable in that a naïve young lady goes to a racially/ethnically troubled school, finds creative ways to connect with her students and they get the education that they need.

Based on a true story, what we discover is that real life teacher, Erin Gruwell, goes to Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California and encounters kids who are having their friends killed, learning to survive on the power of hate and by being gang members, and overwhelmingly do not finish school nor receive an education that will help them escape their scary and deadly lives.

Gruwell cares about the students, builds trust with them, breaks down barriers and most of all instills hope. These kids didn’t care about their present or future because they were hopeless that anything would ever change. Through the exercise of reflection and writing journals these students began to see each other as people and not adversaries that need defeating. Gruwell introduced her students to the horrific tragedy of the holocaust and got them to read “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Gruwell exposed her students to museums and parks and other cultural experiences. Collectively these encounters raised the vision of her students so that they could believe that a better life was possible. Check out the Freedom Writers web site and see the movie.

Tonight I sat at dinner with friends and the observation was made that most adults actually don’t have the lives that they thought they would have when they were young. I live on the Eastside of Seattle in a suburb that is upwardly mobile, educated and affluent. In my world most people can pursue virtually any dream they want. Yet I see most locked into careers and lifestyles that they don’t like but won’t seek to leave. Why? They say that the money is too good for what they do and they don’t want to give up the “stuff”. Maybe.

I suspect that they don’t have hope that change is really possible and really worth it.

Biblical hope is not just wishful thinking or strong yearnings. Biblical hope is a confidence in God. God says that He is for us and that He has good plans for us. God invites us to follow Him and to trust His leadership. He can and will bring the change in our lives that make life full and meaningful.

Do you have the life that you want? Does the work you do matter and reflect your gifts and passion? If your life ended would your departure leave a significant “hole” in the world around you because you add value and joy to others? IT CAN! Your life can be all of that and more. Not by becoming religious but by building a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Like Gruwell with her students, Christ can show you the real world around you, raise your vision and release all of the wonderful qualities that God has already instilled in you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very Good Illustration. Thank you for adding those thought provoking questions and comments. It made me think twice. I look forward to watching the movie on a DVD.