Why "To Kill a Mockingbird" Continues to Be Relevant Today

Why "To Kill a Mockingbird" Continues to Be Relevant Today

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” - Harper Lee

Universal Pictures/Photofest

Many of you I'm sure vaguely remember reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" at some point as a school assignment. I have never been told to read the book by a teacher, but when I saw the book on my sister's bookshelf last month, I remembered how much of a classic it's touted to be, so I decided to read it myself.

The main takeaway, ironically enough, is to not judge a book by it's cover; or in this case, to not judge a person by their skin. It seems like we haven't learned from our mistakes, even though Harper Lee literally spelled them out for us. So, why should we start to care about "To Kill a Mockingbird" now?

In the midst of police shootings, terrorism, and all manner of injustices, it's important to remember what Atticus Finch told Scout on the porch swing, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." This lesson doesn't just apply to understanding our fellow peers, but can also serve to trigger your mind to think in a much grander and philosophical scale.

It seems that a lot of us have forgotten about being empathetic towards others; it seems that we continue to commit the sin of killing mockingbirds, the birds that Miss Maudie said do nothing but produce sweet music for our enjoyment. The symbolism behind the mockingbirds is that of innocence and/or all around good intentions. It seems like we are losing too many people as a result of malicious self-interest, just like when Mayella Ewell falsely accused Tom Robinson of rape, and we all know how that ended.

It's much easier to judge someone at face value alone, but it takes work to consider the many possibilities and events that led someone to think, talk or act in a way different from you, just like Boo Radley was so misunderstood by Scout, Jem and Dill. So let us take a page from Atticus Finch's book (how awesome would it be if he was real and wrote a book?) and re-evaluate how we perceive others and ourselves; we never know what we might learn.

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