“To Kill a Mockingbird” – “Wer die Nachtigall stört”

Image of mockingbird on branch

Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays 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 but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, 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”/”Wer die Nachtigall stört”, ©1960, 1988: Harper Lee)

“Eines Tages sagte Atticus zu Jem: “Es wäre mir lieber, wenn Du auf Blechdosen schießen würdest, aber ich weiß, Du wirst Dich an Vögel heran machen. Schieße auf so viele Blauhäher, wie Du willst, wenn Du sie triffst, aber es ist eine Sünde, eine Nachtigall zu töten.” Das war das einzige Mal, dass ich Atticus sagen hörte, dass etwas eine Sünde sei, darum sprach ich mit Miss Maudie darüber.
“Dein Vater hat recht”, sagte sie. “Nachtigallen tun nur das eine, sie machen Musik für uns, zur Freude. Sie fressen sich nicht durch die Gärten der Leute, nisten nicht in den Maisspeichern, sie tun nichts außer sich das Herz für uns aus dem Leibe zu singen. Darum ist es eine Sünde, eine Nachtigall zu töten.”

(Meine Übersetzung, nach deutscher Ursprungsübersetzung, “Nachtigall”.)

A Snake or a Rope? – Perspective is Key

drawing of a manikin at a little clearing, looking at a speckled band moving
(Image courtesy giphy.com – public domain)

The image makes it as clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.

So, one thing are the facts of the matter.

How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?

In general: Appearances can be deceptive.

It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.

Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.

But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?

The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.

In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.

So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.

Theatre and Life – Heroes, Princesses and Clowns


(English song lyrics below)

This song sends a thrill down my spine every time I listen to it… When I was still a girl this German contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest 1980 won second place. It was the times before internet was wide-spread. I learned about it by chance at the time. It continues to be one of my favourites – because in spite of an apparent lightness in manner – its message is more than you would expect.

Find the English lyrics side by side with the German original farther down.  Even at the time I started to realize that – just as the song points out in fine, clear words – life often is about role-playing: In business, in diplomacy, in politics – and in so-called everyday life, we sometimes hide what is inside in order to prove ourselves. Or protect the finer feelings or scars of the past.

It is only human.
The idea being: Do not judge harshly – some apparently hardened business man or clown may just be hiding pain – and to be careful with judgement is one of the social graces. As a human being.