Atticus Finch is my hero.
He is what everyone in the world should strive to be. He is hopeful of his ideals, but also grounded in reality. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is still strongly poignant today, not only because we are indeed reaping what our forefathers have sown, but also because people haven’t changed very much at all.
Granted, we have become more accepting of the mixing of different races, but there are still a great many people who are distrustful of others without giving it a single thought.
Also, we are so quick to judge others (myself included). A couple of other nurses and I were groaning together about a particular patient who no one liked, when the nurse practitioner broke in and said. “But they have nothing. How can you hate somebody who’s got nothing?”
It really struck a chord with me. How could I hate someone who has nothing? So they spend their disability money on cigarettes. So they like their narcotics. If I could put on their skin and walk around in their life with nothing of value, I’d probably want to smoke and do drugs, too.
We are all so critical of one another these days, from superficial things like hair and clothing to more important things, like how someone parents their children. I imagine people would like to say a great many things to me about my own parenting. They’d probably be critical of how I keep house. However, they probably haven’t met my happy, well-adjusted, home-educated kid. They probably don’t know that I choose to spend time off playing video games with my husband, because that is our fun time together. They probably don’t know that I’ve written 4 novels in 3 years, while acting as wife and mother, as well as working full time as a nurse.
When I feel myself getting frustrated, or making mental comments about someone, I’ve begun interrupting that chain of thought. I stop and sternly remind myself that I don’t know what that person’s life is like. Maybe they suffer from poverty, disability, depression, or simply feeling inadequate. It could very well be that I’m the only person who will be nice to them that day. It might just be that I am the only one that week who has taken the time to see them as a human being with feelings.
Maybe I should just put on their skin and walk around in it for a day. Or as it’s written elsewhere, walk a mile in another man’s shoes. I think that’s what “To Kill A Mockingbird” is really about. It’s about learning to accept other people for who they are, and to let them be, and maybe, just maybe, learn to appreciate them as they are.
It’s a lesson we all need to learn.