HEART-MIND 2014: Kindness' Life-Altering Effects

By Matthew Clarke 


Day Two  of Heart-Mind 2014 opened with a charming video of a bunch of elementary school kids being asked what kindness is. Needless to say, it was adorable, hilarious and poignant. I know all too well the ability of children to accidentally stumble onto a truth that so perfectly captures the essence of a topic. You can watch this great video here.

Next up, Molly Lawlor centered the room with a mindfulness exercise. A very simple concentration exercise that brought our attention to our bodies, bit by bit, and where we were. The auditorium was ready.

And it’s a good thing too, as we were in for a doozy. Erin Gruwell is an English teacher from Los Angeles. She started something called, “The Freedom Writers’ Foundation.” Her story is amazing. Truly. I’d compare it to the movie “Dangerous Minds” starring Michelle Pfeiffer, but a better comparison would be the actual movie they made about her story starring Hilary Swank called, “Freedom Writers.” As a young teacher, she got a job teaching at a very rough urban high school. All the clichés seemed to originate from this school. Troubled kids, daily violence, extreme poverty, gang culture - it was a losing situation. But “Miss G” found a way to connect with these kids through literature and encouraged them to write their own stories. A best selling book of all their stories and a ton of changed/saved lives was the result. Her talk was gripping, inspiring, enraging, sad and joyful. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and a standing ovation followed. It’s amazing how much power even the smallest amount of kindness can have on other people’s lives. The stories that were these children’s lives were absolutely horrific. They have experienced things most of us could never imagine. It’s so easy to look at them as simply broken and beyond repair. Lost causes. Stereotypes we see in movies. And yet amongst all the madness, this one woman was able to see past that, and saw them as people. She saw them. Listened to them. Allowed them to tell their stories and tirelessly supported them and it turned their lives completely around.

Kindness is potent. Even a drop can have life altering effects.

To be continued

Matthew Clarke is a Vancouver-based filmmaker, songwriter, musician, writer, father of two awesome children, and a proud out -of- league husband.  His latest short web-series, "Convos with my two year old," has become an internet sensation in it's first season and is available on YouTube .




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