“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.”
– Harper Lee (1926-2016), To Kill a Mockingbird
Who have you Killed?
The reader may be appalled at this question, thinking, “Of course I’ve never killed anyone! I’m not a murderer.” When, in reality, we kill people every day. We have murdered people our entire lives. We all have mockingbirds we have killed. There are people walking around that you killed at some point. It could have been in high school or college or a friend or an enemy. It could be someone you had a crush on or someone that had a crush on you. It could have been intentional or unintentional. You could be a one time killer or a serial killer. Regardless there is someone you knew at some point that you killed.
They are the literal walking dead.
I’ve often wondered why To Kill a Mockingbird had such an affect on me. It has been my favorite book since high school. I almost have it memorized and it solidified my decision to devote my life to writing. But why did Harper Lee’s characters and words touch my soul? Why did I feel a deep connection to Scout and Boo and Atticus? And then I realized: I have always felt like the mockingbird.
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. 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 why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Sometimes the song I sang was a screech that will hurt your ears. Sometimes the song I sang was so soft and mumbled you had to strain your ear to hear it and wondered if it was worth the pain. Sometimes I sang a song so deep and real you could not handle the depth of my emotions. And sometimes I had no song at all to sing you and then you knew I was killed.
I appear to be the least person to be feared, the most innocent; however, I should be the person you fear the most because I’ve been killed many many times and somehow still woke up in the morning hoping the next day will be different. Sometimes I remember the exact moment I was killed and sometimes it was gradual. I think it’s harder when I remember those moments because it was like being murdered: the victim never expects it and usually it’s by someone they knew.
I’m sure I have killed mockingbirds too. I’m sure at some point I didn’t hear the song someone was trying to sing or didn’t take the time to notice a mockingbird in the background waiting for someone to enjoy its unique voice. And it is the times I’ve killed mockingbirds that I regret more than when I’ve been killed. For I know I can survive but I don’t know about others. I pray my mockingbirds can forgive me.
But what would happen if we resuscitated our mockingbirds we have killed? We can’t go back and change what happened but what if we acknowledged the past and made things right for the future? I know what would happen: the world would have so many more beautiful songs that need to be heard. The walking dead would become the living again and deeps wounds could begin to be healed. The music would be unforgettable.
Harper Lee influenced my world more than I can ever express. If I can touch one person’s soul the way she touched mine then all my late sleepless nights and my constant struggle of tossing words back and forth in my cluttered mind will be worth it. And for the reader, go to your mockingbird and listen to the song they tried to sing while there is still time. Unless you feel no remorse and don’t want to bring a soul back to life or don’t want to truly listen; however, just know, it is a sin to kill a Mockingbird.