by KATE HUNTER
In times of trouble, some people turn to the Bible or the Koran, or to Twitter or Facebook, or websites like this one.
More and more, I’m turning back to books. Mainly I reach for To Kill A Mockingbird. I open it at random and ask, ‘What would Atticus do?’
Atticus Finch wasn’t a real man of course, just words beautifully arranged by a gifted writer, but his wisdom is real and it makes as much, if not more sense now as it did fifty-something years ago.
I picked up my copy again last night, exhausted after following the tawdry Alan Jones sideshow…
‘Well,’ (I’m paraphrasing Jones here) ‘I might have said something mean, but lots of people were mean to me first.’
‘Not as mean as you,’ the crowd yelled back, ‘You were super mean.’
‘Well, I didn’t mean to be mean publicly. And anyway, people pay me to say what I think and if that’s perceived as mean, then too bad.’
Blah blah blah.
What happened to turning the other cheek?
In all this, it seems to me the Prime Minister is the only person with the grace to do it. Is she too upset? Too angry? Too busy? Whatever her reasons for not engaging, I admire her reserve.
I tell my kids – as I’m sure plenty of parents do – it takes two to fight, but only one to stop it, and it doesn’t matter much who started it.
Today there are too many channels running fuel to the fires. Everyone wants to be right, everyone fights for the last word. We televise apologies and judge their sincerity. We call for boycotts and sackings, when the eloquence of silence would serve just as well, or better.
There’s a scene in To Kill A Mockingbird where an angry mob gathers in the Finchs’ front yard, trying to intimidate Atticus into giving up his defense of ‘that nigger.’