ne hundred and one students from several places received the invitation to participate in the Brownsville Middle School Magnet program. These 101 students bussed from local indigent parts of the city of Miami to receive a better-quality education, and I, Rodric, stood among them. Brownsville Middle School became a turning point in my Seventh-Grade life! After a thrilling trip to Disney World as a group of magnet kids for a field trip, I learned a message on the journey home that helped me to become a better person.
Early in the morning when the skies remained dark, appearing like night, all of us students waited for our rides home at a bus stop previously decided. My mother was to retrieve me from the designated place. As I sat on a bench minding my own business, the most horrid odor permeated the air and singed my nose hairs! Never in my young life had I smelled anything so pungent whiff through the air! To the right of me and sitting on the bench next to me, about two feet away rested a man. Filth shrouded this person. No, he wore filth as a second skin—his clothing dark and dingy. Slinking away from the individual with great indignation, I found a perch beside a fellow student, a girl.
I said to her, “I cain’t sit nowhere,” indicating the gentleman on the bench and the pungent odor that accompanied him. Ready to add an explanation of my annoyance, I thought she would confirm my indignant attitude; however, she regarded me with a multitude of repulsed emotions that quieted my tongue and shriveled me to a mouse. In her eyes, I saw a sermon preached.
As if telepathically, she responded with her gaze, “Why would you look down on that man when he has no home to wash himself or clean his body to remove his stench. Why try to recruit me to your cause of antipathy towards that man when you and I have means and a home to go to from here.”
Imagining the pity and disgust that she had in her eyes before she turned away from me to position herself in better company, I learned never to belittle a person for his circumstance. No, she said no words to me or even hinted that she thought those things; however, those sentiments reflected back into my soul from her eyes what I knew as truth. It was the first time the Spirit of God convicted me of my self-righteousness.
What I learned of myself that day, and hope to keep in remembrance, was that I never wanted to be as the ancient Nephites of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Alma, a righteous chief judge among them “saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted (Alma 4:12).
When God looked at my life, would He see more of the same, causing Him shame? Moroni recounts, “ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:37). Though at the time I did not know I fulfilled part of Moroni’s words, I learned later.
“O then ye unbelieving,” counsels Moroni, “turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day” (Mormon 9:6). Change and believe that we are all worth love and respect is what Moroni taught me. What has Moroni seen of you?