“What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

2012 004

 Do you feel that others see your virtues and value them?  Do you know people whom you feel are wasting their lives?  Have you seen anyone transform from a weed to a beautiful plant?

Last night I watched a movie, Freedom Writers, which came out several years ago.  It’s the story of a first year teacher who takes a job in an inner city Los Angeles school teaching the students others have decided can’t learn.  Her students are the “weeds” growing in that garden.  They’re minorities and members of various gangs, and having them in the same classroom creates a potentially volatile situation.

Cover of "Freedom Writers (Full Screen Ed...

Cover of Freedom Writers (Full Screen Edition)

We Are More Alike Than Different

Other members of the faculty see these students as weeds that need to be plucked and discarded.  They have been integrated into the school and “ruined” it.  But the new teacher just sees them as kids she can teach and even when her first approach doesn’t work, she tries something new.  Then one day, she plays a game.  She tapes a line down the center of the room, and she asks a series of questions, such as “How many of you have lost a friend to gang violence?”  If they can answer yes, they step onto the line.  By the end of the exercise, they can see that they have more significant events in common than the differences that have made them enemies.

As the year goes on, the teacher exposes them to more experiences that show them they are of value as human beings and that what connects them is greater than what separates them.  They begin to bond as a group, they do their homework, they become engaged with learning, and they blossom as they discover their own virtues.

The “Weeds” of Our Society Need Us To Respect Their Virtues

Having taught high school in inner city New Orleans and in towns near Albuquerque, I worked with minority students in environments that did not encourage their growth or success.  I’ll never know how much difference I made except in a few cases, and I certainly never created a transformation like the one in the movie, but I do know this.  The “weeds” of this world are just waiting to blossom, and they need to be fed with respect, love, and kindness.  They need someone in their lives who can look deeper, see their virtues and help them develop their strengths.

There Is Always Inner Beauty Within Those Who Are Challenged

But the kids who need help don’t always come from the inner city or poverty.  There are young people from the middle class and wealthy families who lose their way.  I know one who became involved with drugs in an attempt to self-medicate an undiagnosed medical condition.  The addiction lasted years despite having parents who loved him and had the resources to get him help.  He was talented, intelligent, and yet….

Celebrating Survival and Growth

I don’t know what haunted him so much, but we all loved him.  This past week, when he married a wonderful young woman and the mother of his child, we celebrated much more than a wedding, for many of us feared he would be dead long before now.  So, we celebrated his survival and the blossoming of a new life.   We all had seen his virtues long ago.  It just took him much longer to discover and develop the best of who he is.  He is learning how to go deeper and live his life from a spiritual base.  And he is an inspiration to others who have despaired.

Self Love Is the Basis of Empowerment

One reason this young man survived is because he had many loving people who supported him, but too many young people don’t.  Many have parents who don’t parent, who are addicts themselves or who don’t know how to nurture because they have never been nurtured.  As a society, we need to remember that all human beings have value.  One of the most profound questions facing us is how do we transform our systems, health, prison, and educational, so that they heal and empower people, especially young people, to learn to love and value themselves, for self love is the basis of empowerment.  It is hard to love oneself when those around us see us as “weeds.”

We Must Be Able to Imagine a New Life

Napoleon Hill offers a wise approach to transformation when he says, “First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.  The beginning, you will observe, is in your imagination.”  But if you don’t feel you are worthwhile, you will not dare to imagine you can accomplish what you desire.


Imagine (Photo credit: Javier Q.)

Education Must Teach How to Creative Thinking

So many young people do not know where to begin, and if their desires don’t fit with family values or society’s values, but yet are worthwhile, they face a dilemma.  They don’t know how to fill their needs.  That is why our educational system needs to be revised to teach young people how to think because it is their thinking that will allow them to create plans that can transform dreams into reality.  Most importantly, we need to move beyond just valuing logical thinking and become more creative with our thinking so that all possibilities to meet our deeper needs can be considered.

Imagine What You Desire

Imagine how wonderful life would be if we could all imagine being the people we truly wish to be and have the courage and strength to become that person.  May you find the path that will lead you to fulfill your deepest needs.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Freedom Writer’s Foundation, Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich (video), A Thin Line Between Silence and Voice, Today’s Schools Lack Creative Teaching and Learning, Study Says


  1. Georganne, this is surely one of your best! It so inspires me to see within and appreciate each person in a way that gives them inspiration to feel worthy of love, especially their own. Thank you as always.

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