Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lessons Learned from To Kill a Mockingbird

Lessons Learned from To Kill a Mockingbird

“I don't know if it will help saying this to you... some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us... your father is one of them.”   
– Miss Maudie Atkinson (neighbor to Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird)

I had the pleasure of watching the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird last night.  It had been many years since I had seen this fine film.  Based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Harper Lee, the movie captures the deep racial divide that raged in the south.  In the story, Atticus Finch, the widower father of Jem and Scout, defends a black man who is wrongly accused of rape.  Atticus, played by Gregory Peck, is the only lawyer in town who has the courage to defend Tom Robinson against the charges.  In doing so, he becomes a heroic figure in the black community.  They understand the risk he takes both professionally and personally.  His young children learn to appreciate their father’s integrity and courage as they witness the events that transpire.

I started thinking about who does the unpleasant work for us today?

It is all of us on our best day and none of us on our worst day.  We are capable of seeking justice, truth, equality and peace or promoting hatred, violence, intolerance and lies.  We can all be the Atticus Finch of our community.  We have a chance to be a hero in big and small ways - it all counts in the big picture of life.  When I watch To Kill a Mockingbird, I want to be the very best version of myself. 

We are so fortunate that Harper Lee put such lofty ideals into this compellingly honest book.  There is a reason why 50 years later it is still so beloved.  We recognize the timeless lessons and want to relearn them over and over again.  

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