people ostracize others largely out of ignorance

golden retriever sits with owner who is in a jacket, has scarf, short hair and big smile

When I was asked to be part of this website, I had to dig deep to decide which of the posed questions I would answer. It took me a while but I decided to answer “What I worry about.”

Now I may look relaxed and carefree, but I worry a lot about whether my dinner is going to be on time or not. I worry that my people, Onnie and Paul, will forget to feed me breakfast – and that wouldn’t be good because they say it is the most important meal of the day and that nobody should skip it! To ensure I don’t miss breakfast, I wake up my owners, who I share a bed with, at about 5:30 or 6 a.m. every morning so I am sure to get my breakfast on time and start the day right.

Oh, and as a beautiful woman – like the ones that win Miss Universe or Miss America – I worry about world peace.

– Grace, age 9 in people years, hates squirrels, loves to nap, not highly motivated (except when it comes to snacks)

I think that what people read says a lot about who they are and what they think about. So I have decided to talk about my two favorite books – To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I love To Kill a Mockingbird partially because it is so nostalgic and reminds me of when I was a child – a time of innocence, kids playing on the street, riding bikes for miles, eating fresh food out of the garden, and TVs with rabbit ears thick with tin foil. The prevailing message is about how we treat others and racial prejudice, but there are some other peripheral messages in the book that I appreciated.

One relationship that resonated with me was the kids, Scout and her brother, when they were constantly running away from the supposedly scary monster guy (Boo Radley) – as they had heard things about him, or else they had created stories about who his was. In my adult years I see that Boo was very compassionate and ponder if he was just profiled, because he was perhaps a person with mental health issues or a developmental delay. When I was a kid we had a similar character that lived near my cousin’s house in Collingwood and we were always running away for fear he would capture us.

The point is that people ostracize others largely out of ignorance. To Kill a Mockingbird made me realize that we must always give people opportunities to prove who they are before we make judgments and we need to be brave and advocate for others, just like Atticus.

My other favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible. If you haven’t read Kingsolver’s work you must give it a try, as her novels are always thought-provoking and inspiring. The Poisonwood Bible is the story of a Baptist Minister that takes his family, his wife and 4 daughters, to the Congo in the 1950s with the sole purpose of instilling his Christian beliefs onto the natives. The book is written from the perspective of each of the 4 daughters. It is so well-written and so graphic that when I was reading it I could totally envision the African’s clothing, see and hear the bugs, and smell and taste the air. The part of the book that resonated with me long after I finished it was when the minister, in an attempt to convert the African people, tried to baptize them in the river. The Africans were terrified of the water, as that is where the crocodiles lived and so they would not go near it. Needless to say, he had limited success. The question this book begs to answer is why does anyone ever feel the need to impose their beliefs on to others? And when they do, are they ever truly successful?

– Onalee, mother, grandmother, wife, cultural worker, teacher and music lover