1. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Before judging a person, try to remind yourself that everyone has a story. Some stories you might be able to relate to, others are impossible for your mind to grasp. The truth is that you are not expected to agree or understand the circumstances of everyone you meet, but you should at least try to see things from their perspective. The moment you judge a person you are categorizing yourself as superior, thus you have closed off all possibilities for a sincere dialogue to take place. I know from experience that it is hard to stop the habit of judging others because it is something that we have been trained to do, but that does not mean that it is okay or that we should not try to become more empathetic towards others.
2. “They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
Do not give in to the opinion of others just because you are scared to stand alone. Do the right thing for yourself and follow your own heart. Do not put your values on the line for other people because at the end of the day you are the one who has to live with consequences of your decisions. If you carve your own path and act on your ideas you will eventually realize that your individuality is priceless. Never stop being yourself for the sake of others; seek that trait, idea, or opinion that makes you who you are and hold on to it for dear life. And when you begin to feel the weight of unpopularity upon your shoulders, just remember that all great changes in history have emerged from unpopular opinions.
3. “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
As I grow older, I become more conscious of how people, and consequently, our political institutions fail to see beyond racist customs. Yes, we are all folks but in reality we are never perceived as just that. We are black folks, white folks, yellow folks, and brown folks. Sadly, we live in a society where we are always defined by something before we are seen as plain-old-folks. I believe the road to justice is a long one and it starts with people realizing that the color of someone’s skin does not define who they are as human beings. It is about time we start acknowledging that we are all one race: humans.
4. “Atticus, he was real nice… Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
If we took the time to really get to know the people around us, we would discover that the majority of the people we meet are innately nice. There is so much that we can learn from each other, but we deny ourselves this privilege. Instead, we roam the busy streets of the city with our eyes fixed on the pavement or on the road ahead, always too immersed in our own lives to care to start a conversation with anyone.
If I have learned anything in the past few months is to give people a chance. Do not shut them out because you hold preconceived notions of who they are. Every morning when you walk to work don’t drop your gaze to the floor, instead, look those who pass you in the eyes and smile. You will be surprised to see that most of them will smile back at you.
5. “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 see it through no matter what.”
Courage is voicing your opinions, going against the odds, and fighting for what you believe in even when you know that you are not going to succeed the first time you attempt something. Courage means trying over and over again, especially when you are scared, and getting back up every time you fall on your knees. Courage lies in your ability to survive the dark phases of your life. It means believing in yourself despite the circumstances you are in.
On your lowest moments, remember to hold on to your dreams, to your passions, to your comforts, to your music, to your art, to your books, to your loved ones, to whatever makes you happy. In the end, everything passes. Those moments will one day become a distant memory and you will be thankful that you never threw in the towel. No matter how hard your path may look from afar, do not seek an easier road because all the struggles you confront now will be worth it, eventually.
6. “It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”
It took me a long time to realize that what people say or think of you is a reflection of their character, not yours. I wish I had learned this lesson sooner in life, it would have saved me a lot of tears and headaches. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people’s opinions do affect us tremendously and more so now with the growing presence of social media. If you have been verbally mistreated by anyone, don’t let their words wound your heart. Instead, acknowledge that their insults, hatred, anger, or jealousy stems from a dark place in their soul and it is only being projected towards you. It has nothing to do with your character, but it has everything to do with who they are as a human beings.