Published 7:55 pm Sunday, January 28, 2018
If I remember correctly, I learned to read when I was 6-years-old. I am certain at age seven, I read my first book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The book gave me my first insight into the hearts of evil men. It also sparked my interest in the concepts of guilt and innocence. Parts of the book would forge my path through life, particularly during difficult times. Here is a experiences I will never forget.
God communes with people in different ways. He primarily speaks to me in a very subtle way through nature.
During many years spent in the woods, I have heard the songs of the mockingbird in the distance, seen them fly to protect their nests and witnessed their mocking of the songs.
On March 30, 2009 at 10 a.m., as I walked and listened for the gobbling of wild turkeys, I stopped to rest on a stump. Suddenly, a mockingbird landed in some bushes 50 feet away. He began to sing. I sat there for over an hour listening to him. He had his own song. Strangely, he rarely took his eyes off of me.
When he flew away, I felt lead to make that difficult and risky decision. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions of my life.
I have been told that when the mockingbird comes into our lives it can be an innocent message that we need to rethink how we work, interact and communicate with others. Interestingly, these ideas were directly related to the issues I was struggling with.
Back to the book and the most well-known idea from it, “It is a sin to kill a mockingbird.” While there are many interpretations of this, my experience has suggested that to kill a bird that cannot be eaten and does not bother humans is similar to destroying innocence. Destroying the innocence of a child, fellow human or even a mockingbird is a sin.
In the book, Tom Robinson, a kind hearted African American man is accused of raping a white girl. There is no credible evidence and his lawyer, Atticus Finch, actually proves that Tom did not commit the rape. Yet, Tom is convicted by an all-white jury and later murdered by hateful and evil men.
Arthur “Boo” Radley, who has significant mental health disease, is shunned, accused of petty crimes, yet saves a young boy from a vicious attack. Only then do the people realize that Boo is no monster, but a kind and innocent man. Tom and Boo are the mockingbirds in the book because their innocence.
Perhaps at the innocent age of seven, God chose to speak to me at critical times through the Mockingbird.
Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group.