A Homage….

As many of you already know Harper Lee passed away on Friday, 19th Feb at the age of 89. I cannot even begin to describe the debt I owe to Ms. Lee and her fabled book for making me what I am and forcing me to confront truths even when I did not want to. I do not care about her second and more controversial publication, Go Set a Watchman and I do not care about how she has originally intended to portray Atticus. What I do not know is that she alone or in collaboration with someone gave us one of the most humane characters possible and for those of us who took her book to the heart, forced us to look beyond the obvious. I cannot even begin to eulogize about how magnificent or how life changing her writing was. I have in past several times referred to this book and its impact on me and I have often posted about it several time (for instance here and here and here…I think you get my point). Needless to say that To Kill a Mockingbird had a profound impact on me when I first read it at the age of 15 and it still moves me every time I re-visit the book and for me is a novel that defined who I am. I quote from one my old posts to just give you a hint of what this book did to my mind – “This book may not have defined my social or political mores when I was 14. But it did go a long way in making me an egalitarian, an advocating liberalist who believes in equality for all and standing up for what you believe in no matter what the cost. In my small way, I find at times speaking up for what right may cost you something – relationship, money, promotion. But this book made me understand one very important kernel of truth when very young – unless I can look myself in the eye, nothing is worth it!”  I even named part of my blog from this book.

What can I  possibly write to do justice to  the kind of wisdom the book brought forth? I cannot  and decide to let Ms. Lee do the taking instead.  I want to share those epoch moments from the book, which remain life changing to me. These quotes seem even more fitting now as intolerance and divisions across religion and race are bursting forth practically in all nations, dividing us on false fault lines and taking our attention away from real issues, like poverty, climate and other human security issues.

  1. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience
  2. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
  3. I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what
  4. People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for
  5. I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks

RIP Ms. Lee! You helped many of us become better humans.



13 thoughts on “A Homage….

  1. This is a great homage. Thank you for writing. I love the quote, and I particularly like the last line of your blog.

      1. I completely see you. I read it when I was 23, and I was sad that I didn’t discover it when I was younger.

  2. I actually thought that your quote, though simple, was just as profound: “unless I can look myself in the eye, nothing is worth it!”

    We get so dragged into tends and issues and popular culture, that we often forget to examine how things affect others. Often we have to sacrifice for the “good” and we want to be discerning enough to be able to make that choice.

    In any case, a lovely homage! I didn’t read Go Set A Watchman …… I didn’t want it to ruin the wonderful impact of To Kill A Mockingbird. BTW, you’ve now told us where part of your blog title came from ….. would you care to enlighten us as to the rest? I think I might be able to guess part of it ….

    1. Thank You…I am very humbled by such a wonderful compliment. But seriously Cleo, there is such a need to constantly “fit in” that no one really wants to stand out; unfortunately, what is done by majority does not equate to always being right. Its not easy to stand alone, but I find much harder to comply with something that is not right in my mind. See…I knew you would never read Go Set A Watchman for similar reasons…we are wired that way! Yes…I am sure you can guess the other parts…not very difficult at all….why don’t you tell me your guess and I am pretty sure you would have hit the mark!

  3. This was really a beautiful post. I share your love of To Kill A Mockingbird. That book, and Les Miserables are the two most influential books of my life. And ones I read over and over, learning something new each time.

    1. Thank You for your kind words! Both books are deeply profound, though I must say I hold Mockingbird much closer to my heart! I agree that reading them over and over again is like learning something new! I guess thats why they are called Classics!

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