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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's your idea of bravery?

Before I get to the topic, I need to take you off-course for a while and tell you something.

These days I'm reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and I can tell you with my whole heart that it is one one of the best novels I've ever read. Yeah I'm not even finished it - nearly there - but still I can recommend it to anybody. It's that good.

Now let me give you a little bit of background on that before citing a paragraph from it.

The novel is loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 8 years old. Narrator's father, Atticus Finch, is portrayed as a man with high moral values and a role modal for any human being, simply put. In the story, there is a chapter in which I think that teach all of us a thousand lessons about life and bravery.

In the story, though the children haven't even reached their teens, the father, Atticus, is close to fifty - in other words an old man compared to his children's other friends' fathers. And the children - the boy, Jem and the girl Scout - often wondered why his father is so laid back and not active and adventures as other fathers. He never played any sports, never even raised his voice and had never shot a gun. But later they found out that he was the best shooter in the county in his younger days and that he never missed a shot in his life. But Atticus had given up the gun, seeing it is not worth it.

Later, there is a dying woman in their neighbourhood, Mrs. Dubose, who wasn't really liked by anyone. She was harsh, merciless and simply wasn't a soul to be with. But she was dying. She ways dying of some decease and the doctor had given her morphine so that she wouldn't suffer. But she had gotten addicted to it and couldn't really live without it. But at the end of her time, she wanted to get rid of the habit and die freely. Atticus, knowing this sends his son and daughter to her, to read to her at her bed for a full month. At the end she dies, but not before she successfully got rid of her habit. She dies freely. Children see her having fits but never realized what they were or what she has been doing.

So after her death, Atticus explains everything to the children, what she's been going through and at the end, he gives them - and by that to all of us - a valuable lesson that many of us never understand in our whole lifetimes. This is how it goes:

"I wanted you to see something about her - 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 you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."
Wasn't that simply brilliant?

Now let's get back to what I was going to say at the beginning. I'm a regular member of a couple of very well knows Sri Lankan Internet Forum and this incident happened on one of them. In a thread, a poster had posted some pictures of the recent bombings by the LTTE - where they killed all those Tamils - to show how brutal the LTTE is. I don't think there is any argument about that. It's a fact we all Sri Lankans pretty much know by experience. But, to drive your point home do you really need to post the unpleasant images of brutally killed innocent civilians of this country? Indeed you don't. This is something I always wondered about. Why almost ALL our newspapers publish the pictures of the dead without a second thought? Imagine the children, parents, siblings or friends of those who died having to see those images? There are so many bad things about Western Journalism, but one thing I respect the most is they don't do this kind of thing. Remember the WTC incident? Despite thousands of people dying, how many dead bodies did you see? None, right?

So, in reply to that thread I said so. That we don't need to post such unpleasant images to drive our point home. It's no better than the politicians using the war and crime to their advantage.

And guess what she did. Yes people, and ladies, this poster was a she. She labelled me as young (by that immature I suppose) and squeamish(by that, that I'm a pussy).

I felt nothing but sympathy for her.

I mean, it's not about being able to look at sick things that makes you a worth human. Of course I can look at those images without having to throw up. I have seen with my own eyes a man with his guts spilled out but didn't have any problem eating that night. But that doesn't mean that I enjoy that kind of sick things. There is no pleasure in seeing them dead, brutally murdered be them innocent civilians, Army personnel or even LTTE.

No, that's not my idea of bravery. For me, it is about having the courage, the will, the heart to do the right thing when everything is at stake....

3 comments:

  1. funny. i'm reading it right now as well:)

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  2. Loonie, thanks!

    Delilah, are you? Cool. Well I just finished it y'day and it's definitely one of the best ever I've read!

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