Having watched the 50th anniversary showing of "To Kill A Mockingbird" last night brought up a host of questions and concerns.
So I have to ask, have we made any progress in our relations with each other regardless of race, ethnicity or religion? To be sure there are no longer segregated buses, restraurants, bathrooms or water fountains. People are free to travel throughout the country without the concerns of being harassed solely based on race for the most part. But have we really reached a point of being an open society where a person is judged on his character rather than his skin color? I'm not so sure.
Reading the comments left on certain news articles it appears that we've made no progress whatsoever. I frequently see remarks that are racist and bigoted. I see little tolerance for another's heritage. And it bothers me that we, as a society, have made few advances.
I am Wonder Bread white - Norwegian, German, Scottish and English. The result of immigrants who left appalling conditions in Europe for a new start in America. My starting line in life was a lot farther along based solely on an accident of birth. The advantages of being white were not something I gave a great deal of thought to until I left home.
As I grew up moving around the U.S. as a child and teenager, we were exposed to all sorts of people from all walks of life. It wasn't until we moved from New Hampshire to Ft. Lauderdale that I began to realize prejudice and racism were very much alive in the South.
My high school was integrated but there was a lot of racial tension. There were few black teachers. One of the most influential teachers in my life was a black man. His history classes forced us to think, to look at the stereotypes, the racism, the bigotry as well as giving us a look into history from an entirely different view point - that of a minority. I wish I could thank him for the impact he had on my life.
As I read the news from across the U.S. and the world, it seems as if we are more divided than ever before. It feels as if the focus is on our differences more than our similarities. I have to wonder why? Is it because the focus on our differrences allows politicians to further their own personal agendas while the rest of us are busy calling each other names like playground bullies? Maybe I am naive in thinking that we can some day sit down together to work out the problems we are all facing.
On this Easter Sunday as I ponder the impact of such a strong film, it is my hope that each of us can begin to see past the color of our skin and our heritage to find the commonalities we all share. And that we all celebrate the Atticus Finchs in our lives and communities.