I saw a really cool thing today. There were two teenage boys riding bikes along the side of the road. Nothing unusual about that in our little town. As I passed by, the car in front of me pulled to the side of the road, stopping for a funeral procession. Again, nothing unusual about that. I slowed to a stop as well and waited in a long line of cars paying respects to the dead.
What was a surprise to me, was that the boys both stopped their bikes, and took off their hats as the procession passed by. These boys obviously were not old enough to drive. They were probably out enjoying their last day before school starts. (Though riding bikes in 100-degree heat would not be my choice of a fun day.) They were not clean cut kids. Some might even say that they looked a little like trouble makers with long hair, and piercing all over. Yet here they were honoring a total stranger. I was taken aback by this show of respect.
I think that many times we jump to conclusions about people from appearances, especially young people. I know I do. This is unfair judgment on our part because appearances can be deceiving. Every one deserves a chance to show her/himself for who they are…before we size them up. We should reserve our judgments and try to see beyond how someone looks. As school starts tomorrow, I am reminded of this lesson from watching these boys stand in the heat. Until the very end of the procession they stood, heads slightly bowed hats over hearts. It was a simple show of humanity, which we do not often attribute to preteens. It was an important lesson that reminded me to dig deeper with my students and to look beyond clothes, and hair to the heart.