On Good Friday Dave and I watched the movie Wonder. I had read the book and so I knew the plot, but the film still engaged me totally and had me weeping. Although there are some credible critiques of the film, particularly this one in The Atlantic I thought the message of the movie and the excellent performances from its main actors Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, far outweighed the fact that it probably didn’t paint a totally realistic picture of a family and a school community impacted by a fifth grade boy named August who has a severe facial disfigurement.
August’s home room teacher Mr. Brown puts precepts on his chalkboard for his students to discuss and consider. The precept that grounds the story of Wonder is from Wayne Dyer, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
This is something August’s schoolmates, their families, August’s own sister and August himself must struggle with as they deal with their tendencies to react in less than kind ways.
I found out the movie Wonder has sparked a Choose Kindness campaign. School classes or individuals are encouraged to have a Choose Kindness jar. Each time they do something kind a marble, or coin, or some other marker goes inside till the jar is full. Kids have been coming up with their own precepts that encourage kindness, writing stories about kindness, designing kindness T-shirts and doing all kinds of projects that inspire kindness.
The movie made me think about my own behavior. Sometimes when I write or speak I let my belief that I am right get in the way of being kind. I need to be more conscious of that.
Wonder was really the perfect movie for a Good Friday, because its story reminds us to be as compassionate and kind as Jesus was to the people hanging on either side of him on the cross, to the people who killed him, to his mother who was grieving and to the many marginalized people he encountered during his time on earth.