Friday, December 26, 2014

The Challenge Of Atticus Finch

When Atticus Finch told Scout “you never understand a person until you consider things from his point a view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” he was challenging his daughter and the rest of the world with an impossible task.

Yes, we can consider things from another person’s point of view but this is limiting because try as hard as we can, many of us cannot climb into another’s skin. A man will never face with the choice on whether or not to have an abortion, someone without children will never understand what it means to be a father, and most Caucasian people will never know what its like to be discriminated on the basis of their own race.

We live in a world where we live in constant tension over critical issues that remain unresolved in our society. There’s marriage equality, health care, the death penalty, abortion, welfare, rape culture, religious discrimination, gender issues and racial inequality.  These issues seep into every facet of our society. They are so present and so pervasive, sometimes we forget that they lie in the back of our minds and the conversations with people we encounter every day.

We play nice with family member and know better than to talk about religion and politics but things come up. We try to steer the conversation to another place or simply walk away but it’s tough, because as much as we try to understand someone else’s perspective, often we fail at this challenge

There is a place in our discussions for accepting plurality and acknowledging that all viewpoints are valid and should be respected. However some opinions that lack reason, that embrace a complete lack of consideration for opposing viewpoints themselves do not deserve the tolerance that they are often afforded.

Almost all modern Americans will not accept Nazis' view on exterminating the Jews as reasonable and the Priest arguments based on Bible quotes that advocated slavery leading up to the Civil Wars. People went to jail, fought wars and died because they would not tolerate the existence of these paradigms.

Are there opinions in our current debates that we will look back on generations from now and will not accept like we do not accept the practice of slavery? I’m sure there are, but it’s difficult to know.

When do we try the impossible and walk a mile in someone else’s skin and when do with do we give up, pick up arms and wage war?  Can we understand those who are unreasonable? Can we accept what we can’t understand? How do we know when to stand up and fight with the courage of our convictions and how do we know what to walk away?  Some look to God for these answers, while others look to history.

There are no easy answers but that's no excuse to not struggle with these questions, but we've got to try.  There are battles being fought every day and we've got to do what's right for ourselves, our family and our country.

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