Sunday, August 10, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird

Roger and I watched “To Kill a Mockingbird” last night. We hadn’t seen the movie in years, because we both made comments like “I don’t remember that”, or “I had forgot that” while we watched it.

I have to admit that I haven’t felt that “good” after watching a movie in a long time. I realized the thing that made me feel good was the depiction of that ere; the realization that life had truly been simpler then. It was set in a time before we were born, but life in a small town had not really changed all that much from then to when I was 6 years old.

I recognized the little town where I grew up in the town of Macon where they lived. I recognized the little white clapboard houses, with porches, that had porch swings and rocking chairs, and dirt streets with no curb or guttering.

Ladies wore house dresses, with aprons over them to protect their clothes. Some men, a good many, wore overalls. Little girls wore dresses to school. People sat on their front steps, and in their porch swings, and walked across the street and visited with neighbors.

The pace was slower. It was almost like going back in time, and remembering Oxford Kansas on a hot summer day in 1961. Children were children, with freedom to play outside after dark catching lady bugs, or building a tent out of old sheets and bedspreads over the clothes line, climbing trees, riding bikes, playing baseball on the empty lot across the street all the while taking for granted the safety and freedom to roam the town and outskirts. Cigar boxes or shoe boxes filled with treasures like a perfect birds feather, a pretty leaf, a marble, maybe a found dime or penny, a skate key, a random medal and pretty rocks found as we pushed our bikes along the street.

The awe we felt toward grownups because we knew they really DID know more than we did and the protection they provided us so we DIDN’T know things before we were ready. We were innocent of the ugliness of the world, unaware of the differences between people, the ugliness that can separate us from one another sometimes. The plot of the story wasn't lost on me. I "got it". But it was the other stuff, watching it this time that stood out to me.

When Atticus Finch explains to Jim why his father wouldn’t let him shoot Mockingbirds, he relates the story his father told him about how a Mockingbird doesn’t do anyone any harm, they just sing and make music. Why destroy something that causes no harm?

When I thought about that in light of the changes in our times, our towns, our children, and the environment that we are living in and raising them in, I realized that someone, has indeed, shot the Mockingbird.