“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
I’m typically a pacifist. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good argument. I like to debate about things I care about. That’s when I can feel like I’m really communicating. I don’t need to win, I just like to show up to the conversation and that is winning. That’s why when someone is mad at me I don’t handle it well. Sometimes, they don’t even have to be actually mad, I can just perceive someone is mad, and it will make me physically sick. There is a big exception to this. A person that hurts others just for the sake of hurting them is something that makes me feel like there is a special afterlife for those people.
There are people out there that can make a sport out of making you feel bad for something they did. Maybe you didn’t even have control over this thing they are angry about. Maybe they are trying to reconcile their own failures. For whatever reason, they decide to make sure those around them are as miserable as possible. They do this without a thought for others, and they do it in a myriad of ways. These same people also enjoy punishing those around them to make up for their own problems. This is, in a word, unacceptable .
There are also people that get out of bed every morning and dress themselves in guilt and other people’s failures the way most will pull on a sweatshirt. They walk around on eggshells. They hope things will be better than they were the day before. They just want peace. They just want to be happy for a few minutes. The one thing they would change about themselves is their level empathy, and they try to be as helpful as possible hoping that one particular gesture might make the day bearable for everyone. This is also unacceptable.
Toxic people tend to go around aiming at mockingbirds. They don’t care if they go through other people’s lives leaving scars. The sin they commit is indifference. They are indifferent to feelings, emotions, love, and respect. They use the people in their lives that see the human inside the facade of pain, and they don’t acknowledge that the pain they create has its origins with their behavior. Causing pain is sometimes its own consequence. Those that cause pain to others without regard to who they are will bear the pain when that person is no longer around. Because sometimes mockingbirds don’t die. Sometimes they rise from the ashes a phoenix, a new creation ready for a new day.