To Kill A Mockingbird

Are we as a society going to regress to a state where personal ideology, political ambitions, sentiments of revenge, and hate going to determine our judgment?

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You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

 

Atticus provides clear evidence that the accusers, Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob, are lying: in fact, Mayella propositioned Tom Robinson, was caught by her father, and then accused Tom of rape to cover her shame and guilt. Atticus provides impressive evidence that the marks on Mayella’s face are from wounds that her father inflicted; upon discovering her with Tom, he called her a whore and beat her. Yet, despite the significant evidence pointing to Tom’s innocence, the all-white jury convicts him.

~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

We have just gone through an episode in our history that unfortunately reflects the worst of our politicians and our citizens. I do not wish to revisit the episode of Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment to the SCOTUS and Dr. Ford’s allegation of a sexual assault when they were both teenagers.

I do wish that all of us reflect, not on the merits or lack thereof of the case, but on our past, our present, and our future as a Nation. A good place to start is looking at Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

In this book, Ms. Lee describes, as told through the eyes of a child, life in an Alabama small town in an era in our past where we had discrimination based on race, and judicial due process was denied to blacks.

An accusation of rape against a black man by a white woman resulted in a guilty verdict even if the case presented had ample evidence to the contrary. The attorney representing the accused and his children were victimized by the town’s people including physical attempts that threatened their lives.

The book describes one of our country’s darker eras when some were labeled guilty a priori and justice served only part of the population. We have come a long way, if not all the way. Discrimination because of skin color should be unacceptable and that includes white, black, and anything in between.

The narrator, a young girl named Scout, and her brother grew up attempting to understand why people acted so mean and lived through the experience and abuse their father went through as a lawyer, defending the accused young man.

The lesson learned was that justice should be blind, everyone has a right to defend him/herself from accusation and judged innocent until proven guilty, not as it happened the opposite way.

Are we as a society going to regress to a state where personal ideology, political ambitions, sentiments of revenge, and hate going to determine our judgment? Are we going to abandon fair play and rationality? Are we going to be led by the worst of our instincts instead of an outlook of love, compassion, and fairness? Are we going to discriminate because of race and gender instead of proof of guilt?

Harper Lee gave us a beautiful answer:

“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

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