My family moved during the beginning of my third grade year, a process that is sometimes a little bit difficult for a younger kid. I remember it being scary, moving away from all my friends and being thrust into a brand new environment that was far from my comfort zone. My class was full of nice and friendly kids, many that I would eventually go all the way through highschool with, and all in all it was a pretty smooth transition.
Being the new kid, I didn't have as strong of a friendship with many of those in my class as the others had, and I wanted to be included as if I was one of the longtime regulars. Whatever the group activity of the day was during recess was where I went. I tried to keep myself there, having fun, just being included.
I had an easier time than some...
I distinctly remember one infamous day of my life in particular when a classmate who had been there from first grade had one of the roughest days ever. She was bright and one of the better students in the class, but it was apparent she didn't come from the wealthiest home in community. Her clothes were not "in" and her hair was always a little tangled. She came from a home where her family smoked pretty heavily, and it led to asthma and a constant lingering air about her.
We all know kids can be cruel, but she was tormented at every possible opportunity in the worst way a third grade class could possibly know how. Unceasingly it seemed, whether it was in class or during lunch or on the bus, they hounded her. That day that is most vivid in my mind comes at a time when she won an academic award in class and was informally accused of cheating by a chanting chorus of her classmates. She left school in tears.
I wish I could say I stood up for her. I wish I had told everybody else to knock it off. I wish I had been her friend. I never saw her after that year, but her face still crosses my memory every once in awhile. That situation and my conscience has taught me a lot. I never joined in, but to this day I remain just as guilty.
Looking back, I was still the new kid... but was it more important to be popular or to have done what was right? Was it more important to keep my head down or to speak out against the wrong? How could self preservation win out against kindness?
I have learned a little from my life and particularly from my mission since then: Don't wait for people to be kind, show them how. Always be kinder than necessary. Compassion is not a weakness, but it is the essence the most admirable men and women I have personally ever known. And most importantly, that the Savior is the greatest example of all that is gentle, gracious, and charitable.
Charity is the pure love of Christ. We know through the scriptures in Moroni 10:21 that, "except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God, neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope". And as we find in Corinthians 13:13, "of faith, hope, charity; the greatest of these is charity."
Lets all work a little harder to be a littler kinder.