Holding Onto the "Old" Atticus

Friday, July 17, 2015

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NOTE: If you are still waiting/wanting to read Go Set a Watchman this post contains spoilers and you may not want to read it! :-)

This past week it came in the mail...the long-awaited second novel of Harper Lee. I sat down to read a story I had been impatiently waiting for for months. The rest of the world who loved and adored To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus, Scout, and Boo Radley also eagerly grabbed up the book. Sadly, within 48 hours I was disappointed. The writing is rough...the plot is sadly lacking, but there is something even worse...

Set twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus has become a bigot, and his daughter, Jean Louise, is coming to grips with who her father really is. I know her pain. Actually, probably everyone does. You see life is about people disappointing us. You can't escape it. Eventually people are going to let you down. Those that you thought were friends turn out to be enemies. Family doesn't act like family. Your greatest supporters become your greatest rivals. As much as I would love to look past it all, I know people disappoint. That's why I am going to hold on to the "old" Atticus...the one we have adored and looked up to for years. The Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Why hold on to the Atticus of Mockingbird and try to strip from my mind the scarier version of him? It all comes down to hope. I have hoped for a long time that I could be Atticus...the one from Mockingbird. When it is all said and done and life is over for me, I would rather have a legacy of treating people with kindness. One of justice and standing up for what is right. One full of grace and truth.  I would rather...

"climb into his skin and walk around in it" so I could really understand a person.

"hold my head high and keep my fists down."

realize that "it ain't time to worry yet."

come to grips with the concept that "there's just one kind of folks. Folks."

The fact of the matter is that we are all more like the seventy-two year old Atticus than we want to admit. We are prejudiced and scared of others. We are hypocrites. We make mistakes. We deeply hurt those around us, but that doesn't mean we should give up and not strive to love others and to be a person of integrity.  Will we totally triumph over our flaws, hypocrisy, and fears? Probably not, but there was once this guy that said, "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win." I think I will side with him and keep striving to be like him...

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