I recently finished reading The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teen Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell.
I know that this is not a new book, but it is very inspirational and I feel like a lot of the themes it covers are extremely relevant today. While I was reading I tabbed some of the parts that I felt were exceptionally relevant and I wanted to share some of them with you. I hope you don't mind. I'm planning on adding more posts about this book and thoughts and parallels later but this post will just be a few quotes from the book, nothing too fancy.
I highly recommend reading the whole book. It is important to remember that we all possess the potential to affect change and the lessons of compassion and tolerance even in the most difficult conditions will (most likely) always be relevant.
Thanks for reading.
from page 38: "Today in Ms. Gruwell's classroom, I realized that a peanut's still a peanut even if the shell is different. Some taste better, others look fresher, but in the end they're all peanuts. Ms. G's analogy, 'Don't judge a peanut by its shell, judge it by what's inside of it,' made perfect sense to me. As long as I know that I am a human being, I don't need to worry about what other people say. In the end, we are all the same."
from page 61: "When I told Ms. G about the fight, she told me about one of her students named Sharuad, who was teased because he had big lips. She said she found a mean drawing of his lips and it made her lose her cool. After yelling and screaming at the class, she said the incident woke her up and made her become a better teacher. Maybe this incident could make me a better person, too."
from page 87: "She told us to be the kind of people that have enough passion to change the world. If we let ourselves be fire, thunder, or lightning we could alter everything.
We all thought that Ms. Gruwell's lesson was really powerful and all, but us? Lighting and thunder? Not likely. The below-average sure-to-drop-out kids? Please, ever since I can remember, we've been put down and stepped on, and now all of a sudden we have the potential to change the world? Leave it up to Ms. Gruwell to come up with some crazy shit like that."
from page 118: "The boy lay unconscious, his arms, legs and back were all broken. I watched as he was taken to the hospital and watched as the culprits were arrested.
'why didn't I do anything to help him?' I asked myself. Maybe it was because I was scared of the consequences. More likely, I would have been mauled by the crowd. Even though I could have been hurt, I wish I had done something. If Ms. G finds out that I just stood by and did nothing, she'll really be pissed at me. After all, I wasn't being very 'self-reliant.' I just hope she doesn't find out."
from page 120: "What she showed me today is that a truly self-reliant person takes action, leaving nothing to chance and everything to themselves. She showed me that excuses will not bring about success and that adversity is not something you walk with, but something you leap over. The only obstacles are the ones you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it. I want to be a self-reliant person, now and forever."
from page 143: "After I heard their moving stories, I felt really guilty. After all, Jopie and Lies risked themselves for their friend and I didn't even have the guts to say that I wanted to sing to them. Maybe I didn't deserve to be there because I wasn't as brave as they were. Lies helped her friend in the camp, knowing that if an officer saw her she would be killed. No one was going to kill me just for saying that I wanted to sing, but I made it seem that way with my cowardliness.
Bad things have happened because people hold back information. Women get beat up by their husbands and no one can help them because they never say who did it. Children get abused and we sometimes think that everything is normal because they act as if there is nothing wrong. The Germans knew what was going on in the camps, but the world found out too late because they held back the information. There are many tragedies that could be stopped if only we spoke up more often. From this point on, I will not be silent."
from page 161: "Being able to look into another person's life is one thing, but doing something about it is another. I feel that we have the potential to speak for themselves. But speaking out is not always easy. We may face a lot of closed-minded people along the way. So just like the Freedom Riders, who didn't give up when their bus got bombed or when they were beat up by the Klan, I hope we'll stand strong like the Dylan Thomas poem and 'Not Go Gently Into That Night."
There are many more great quotes, but I'm trying not to over load this post so I will add more posts with more quotes and ideas later. :)