People should do what’s right

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

It had been a long time since I’d seen the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but when I sat down to watch it, I quickly remembered why it is one of my favorites. The best movies can lift us up and help clarify our beliefs.
“There are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us,” one character explains at a difficult moment.
When I look at my heroes, real and fictional, that is what I see in them – their willingness to pay a greater price, to bear a heavier burden and to make the difficult decisions sets them apart.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is just a movie, but the movie’s main character, Atticus Finch, exemplifies these characteristics.
Finch is a lawyer in a small Alabama town during the Depression. Finch loses his case and an innocent black man is convicted of raping a white girl, because not one member of a white 12-man jury had the strength of conviction to stand alone and be singled out by the rest of the town.
The contrast between Finch and the jurors makes us wonder which we resemble. We know who we would want to be like, but we’re never sure until the crisis hits.
In the movie’s courtroom scene, the black community continues to show its support for Finch from their balcony seating. They believe in Finch because he believes in doing what is right no matter how hard. He won’t ignore his principles even when so many in his community seem to turn against him.

We all have opportunities in our lives, maybe not as dramatic as Finch’s or as public as our elected leaders, but choices will present themselves to us. What we do and how we handle them will define who we are and what our purpose is.
Unfortunately, often the people who do what is right don’t get the credit or attention they deserve. They are not singled out as heroes by the lens of a camera capturing their brave actions, selfless motives or even the pain they endure. But we learn from the movie, with its courtroom scene, that no good deed goes unnoticed. Someone is always looking down on us.
American history is full of heroes who were willing to stand up for their beliefs. Abraham Lincoln’s determination to keep America together helped him lead the country through our bloodiest and most divisive war. He was one of those rare people who was willing to stand up alone. Lincoln accepted probable defeat in his re-election bid. He accepted responsibility for the deaths of thousands of soldiers. While he gets credit now, he was attacked throughout his presidency and ultimately killed.
What would we think of Lincoln today if he had compromised?
We should remember Finch’s explanation to his daughter, Scout, when she asked why he was defending a black man. “The main one is that if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold my head up in town.”
Our heroes are always going to be the people who stand with those who need help defending themselves; the people who are willing to bear a burden that is only theirs because they put what is right ahead of what is easy. We know in the end Finch was able to hold his head up high because he didn’t let public opinion sway what his conscience knew was right.

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