The sun beats down mercilessly on the parched North Texas earth below. I inhale the salty, thick air and silently thank God for the invention of mango...
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Julia's Poster: The Most You Can Do
August 30, 2014
I end the class as normal. A series of pirouettes from fifth position punctuated by a grand jete out the side door. This is how I typically conclude Fusion's Thursday Advanced Jazz class, except today was different. Today, a defiant Julia stared at me refusing to leave the room.
I should preface this by saying Julia began today's class with a very serious glare and the comment that she and I would need to speak later. I should also preface this by saying Julia is ten years old.
The cool North Texas air nipped at my uncommonly large calf muscles as I hugged my last Fusion dancer good-bye. It is 2012, and the month of March is forcing the last of winter to fall prey to the impending Texas Spring. I smile at Julia as she very seriously approaches me from the opposite end of the room.
Julia is much shorter than a ten year old of her age should be. Her long, brown curly hair softly cascades the top half of her body, making her appear doll-like and easy to love. She wearily glides towards my side of the room, staring at me both stoically and seriously. Before I could ask her what was wrong, she uttered the most unbelievable words.
“Do you know who Joseph Kony is?”
Now for those of you who were awake during the day, you know that a huge firestorm occurred in 2012 when the “Kony 2012” campaign revolutionized social media advocacy. Nearly anyone who had a facebook account shared the infamous video to make Kony famous. Within 48 hours, every news media outlet was covering a story that had been virtually ignored for years. However, in between the debut of this video and Julia's question, a huge backlash had occurred. People began to ask the question, 'if we only share this video through the distant channels of social media, what affect are we really having?'
In this middle of this growing controversy, a quiet ten year old Julia stands, staring at me through green eyes, awaiting my answer.
“Yes, I know who that is.” I answered, unsure exactly why she was asking the question.
Julia sighs. Not a ten-year old sigh, but the sigh of years of pent up exhaustion. It was clear that she was struggling with whether or not to tell me about Joseph Kony.
“Well,” she said, “if its okay with you, I would like to bring a poster to class...I made a poster to tell everyone I know about Kony.”
My eyes widened. A poster? You made a poster? A guerilla leader has displaced 2 million people and hurt countless children and you... made a poster?
The single tear, unabashed by its surroundings, escaped from my eyes before I could grant consent.
Where others had refused to press a button to share on Facebook amid new chagrin surrounding the viability of social media advocacy, this ten year old spent hours on a poster she was hoping to show to her dance teacher.
Mother Theresa once said, “You can do no great acts, only small acts with great love.”
The reality is that Julia was disturbed by the horrific acts happening to kids she would never know. The reality was Julia did all she could do with the only two hands she could control.
She made a poster.
Will that save thousands from devastation? No. But it will bring a ten year old into unity with those suffering outside of her tiny master planned community. While that poster doesn't change the suffering of those that suffer, it changes the hearts of those who care about Julia, and that, though on a smaller scale, changes everything. It transforms a temperamental ten year old into someone transformed by the suffering of others. In addition, it transforms those spoiling that ten year old, into aware and concerned citizens.
I stare at Julia and I smile. I grant her permission to bring her poster to class. She smiles politely, and bounces happily on her way. Following my meeting with Julia I begin to recount, not what I couldn't do , but what I could do to help those in need. Because, at the end of the day, its what you can control, not what you can't, that leads to the transformation in the community around you.
So, if you can, update your Facebook status or pray. Talk to a friend about injustice. Financially support an organization you know is making a difference.
While its not the MOST good, its the most good you can do. And that matters.
Marquita De Jesus is a choreographer and author of the new book, Radically Ordinary, radicallyordinary.tateauthor.com
available on Amazon 9/2/2014—https://www.facebook.com/events/648029348616541/?ref=22
View the trailer below at —http://vimeo.com/102414463