I recently did something I typically don’t do – I went to see a movie after I’d read the book.
Often I find the movie to be a disappointment after reading the words on the page. And if I’ve seen the movie first, I typically won’t go back and read the book. But this time I did something different.
I had read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption back in 2017, about two years after it was published. And I recently went to see the movie which has stunning performances by Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan (neither of whom was honored with an Oscar nomination for their outstanding depiction of Walter McMillan and Bryan Stevenson).
If you aren’t familiar with the book, the movie or the story, it’s about Bryan Stevenson, a black Harvard-educated lawyer, who went to Alabama to represent convicted prisoners on death row at great personal sacrifice. He has spent his career challenging biases against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system and has represented cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning a decision to prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death or life imprisonment without parole. He is now widely acclaimed for his work in helping and advocating for the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
As I watched the movie, I was reminded (once again) how one individual can make a difference in this world. And I thought back to the quote by Anne Frank:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Not all of us can or will have the impact on society that Bryan Stevenson has had, nor the impact on an understanding of the Holocaust from the writings of a 13-year-old girl, but I believe that each of us has the power to improve whatever part of the world we occupy. Each of us has a sphere of influence.
Ultimately, I am glad that I did something I don't typically do... and now, what are you willing to do to start improving the world?
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Sarah Birnbach is a writer and author who shares the transformative power of journaling, providing encouragement and insights to help people on their journey to their "best self" and is the creator of the free Best Self Program.