I always anticipate the month of March. Aside from welcoming the warmth that comes with spring and flowers blooming (I hate winter), I consider it my favorite month. It sets in motion a wealth of good memories. My dear mother, darling son, favorite niece, generous uncle, and some great friends were all born in March. Also, some life-changing events took place in this month. So when dusk set on February 29, 2012, my mind and outstretched arms were more than ready to receive and bask in the joy of marching into the next 31 days.
What I got on the first day of March 2012 wasted no time in shoving my “me, me, me” agenda to the curb. The news of the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin sent chills down my spine. The fact that his killer–George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic man–claimed self-defense and wasn’t charged with a crime added goose bumps to the chill I was already experiencing.
My mind raced to the Martin family, and I wondered what was going on in their aching minds. I thought of my son—what if it had been him, or any of my beloved nephews or a family friend’s son? What would I do? These thoughts fueled a fear of the unknown that I had to suppress with assurance from the Word of God.
It was obvious that the monster of racial tensions had been stirred. Heart-wrenching cries from many people–especially African-Americans screaming “foul”–began rising from different quarters with a call for Zimmerman’s arrest. In the midst of all this, Skittles and hoodies became overnight icons of injustice, and Rodney King’s plea from the wilderness of the 1992 Los Angeles racial riots–“Can we all get along? Can we get along?”–fell on deaf ears. For me, this was a time to think, and I spent the next few days considering what the future held for my generation.
By the 5th day of the month, something new had gone incredibly viral all over the world. I didn’t even know about it till a shameless craving for cheesecake caused me to invite my 15-year-old son along with me on a drive I truly had no business taking. “Mom, let me show you an interesting video I saw this afternoon,” he said, reaching for his cell phone. Thinking it was one of those silly videos teenagers watch, I put him off. “Not now, maybe later.”
He persisted. Actually, he pleaded. “Mom, you have to see this video–you have to see what’s happening to children in Uganda. Please. It has more than a million views in two days—I know you’ll like it.”
I gave in and watched the video–KONY 2012. If you haven’t heard of it by now, it’s a documentary by the U.S. nonprofit Invisible Children that calls for action to help hunt and capture a ruthless rebel leader in the jungles of central Africa named Joseph Kony. The images of mutilated boys and girls, child victims of rape, and young soldiers carrying fierce-looking arms at times heavier than they were produced a mixed reaction in me. I felt rage from the wickedness of this man and his army to fellow human beings, particularly innocent children. But I also admired this group of young Americans who’d found a way into the corridors of power and the hearts of so many people with their 30-minute film.
A scene in the video where the reporter goes into the bush to meet with Kony despite the dangers touched a raw nerve in me. I couldn’t help but continue to think of what the future held for me—how I could take a stand in expressing compassion, in making sacrifices for others.
A lighter side came at the end of the month through a 17-year-old boy on the Britain’s Got Talent show. Jonathan Antoine reinforced the adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover. A victim of bullying and low self-esteem, Jonathan came onstage to jaundiced looks from the judges, who seemed to be saying, “Do your thing and get outta here.”
Like Joseph in the Bible, who woke up one morning as a prisoner and went to bed the same day as prime minister, Jonathan–a nobody 10 minutes earlier—became a somebody the world is still talking about, with 7,602,547 million views of his video on YouTube in a single week. He stunned the judges and audience with his stellar voice and gave me reason to end March 2012 on a brighter note.
While the month of March didn’t go the way I expected, I’m glad it got me thinking about my role in reinforcing the messages of diversity, sacrificial giving outside my comfort zone, and never underestimating anybody. Be sure to read the stories from our incredible writers—I don’t think you’ll find a more diverse, surprising set of voices anywhere in American Christian media. When you’re done, think of how you can make a difference in people’s lives.
Until next time, keep thinking, keep impacting others, and please keep spreading the word about MannaEXPRESS.