The death of a ‘mockingbird’
This refers to the editorial titled “An incredibly brazen killing” (Opinion 11/7/16). Those behind the killing must have been aware that Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa knew too much because he “after all, stood as a vital witness, perhaps the government’s strongest one, against the 226 persons he had named in his affidavit.”
This terrifying tragedy reminds me of Harper Lee’s “To kill a Mockingbird.” In the novel, Tom Robinson was accused of rape. But he was wrongly indicted, misjudged and ill-treated. Tom became a victim of social injustice.
During Tom’s incarceration, he tried to escape imprisonment. As he was running away from the guards, he was shot by the guards. Seventeen bullet wounds were found in his body. Why on earth did the guards shoot Tom 17 times when he had no chance of getting away?
According to Wikipedia, mockingbirds “are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians, often loudly and in rapid succession.” Mockingbirds don’t sing their own songs. In our society, some people take the posture of power, despot or untouchable autocrat, and they force others to act like mockingbirds—to “sing our song,” submit to us, and finally dump their own unique voices, and sing along with us—for us to enjoy.
A mockingbird symbolizes innocence. Tom was a mockingbird but one of a kind. The accusing finger was pointed at him because he was black and not because of the crime he allegedly committed. But is it a crime to be black? Does the color of the skin determine one’s guilt?
Like a mockingbird, Tom perhaps realized that he could no longer continue to “sing our song.” He thought maybe it was time he sang his own song and let the world listen to it. But the unfairness, injustice and cruelty of the world silenced his voice forever. That is why we were not able to listen to his song.
In our society, there are many mockingbirds. In my view, Mayor Espinosa was one of them. Most of them are mystified by society’s insensitivity and callousness. Question: When these “mockingbirds” sing their own songs—express their dissent or perhaps rebel, will we silence them?
Atticus finally says in the novel, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, they 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. ”
REGINALD B. TAMAYO, Marikina City
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