With my chicken burrito, a good book, errands completed; I sat crying in Qdoba. And it wasn't the extra spicy queso on the burrito. The innocent words of Scout Finch made me weep for the injustice of labels and judgement humans so easily affix to each other.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was a required book when I was 15 years old. Rereading my copy with the highlighted passages, I apparently did pretty good on the unit. Before last week, I couldn't have told you much about the story. Since January the themes and characters of it seemed to be stalking me, first in conversations, then Facebook posts, and finally the local paper. I am superstitious and gathered three signs was the universe sending me a message. I read it last week. It was a beautiful experience.
First, hats off to all the English teachers who make this required reading. What I forgot of the story, I retained in theme. I remembered injustice and prejudice were the themes. But among all the chaos that is high school, I was stuck on the broader picture of the racial prejudice of the town. As an adult with more baggage and experience, I was open to the perseverance and bravery of the Finch family to stand up to their community while embracing them. Atticus pleaded with his children to maintain faith in their community without conceding their beliefs. Acceptance despite difference is the key ingredient to community. This thought is what led me to cry in my burrito as I read these words spoken by Scout:
"Naw, Jem, I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
The first tear was for the times I have been labeled a certain type of folk, and the many tears after were for folks I have labeled and judged. Judgement comes with a price which you can't total up until you are bankrupt. Like the Chinese Proverb says "After all, harming others means you first harm yourself." Another visit with the Finches makes me realize, compassion takes practice. By challenging judgement with compassion I can tear down a few walls and soothe the wounds.
Navigating out of Qdoba as the lady crying, I was lighter without my armor.