This is an essay I wrote last year as a school assignment.
I now copy-paste it in this post to add proper citations and references.
Heroes Among Us
MS20143 Sol Jun
August 30, 2013
A hero does not have to wear a cape. A hero does not have to possess superpowers. Christopher Reeve once compared a hero and an ordinary person and said, “…A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” This is really the only difference which makes a normal person a hero. Taking this perspective, one can easily spot heroes, all living among us. One of these heroes is Atticus Finch. Although he leads a typical and normal life, with his superhuman empathy, subtle gentleness, and uncompromising integrity, Atticus Finch is probably one of greatest heroes in the world of literature.
Atticus Finch is a fictional character in the book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. He lives in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, the widowed father of two children, his son Jem and his daughter Scout. He is known and held in high regard by the people of the town for his wisdom, patience, and exemplary behavior. People in distress and with concerns often come to him for counsel, of which he gives them. He makes a comfortable living from his profession as a lawyer. Simply, Atticus lives a perfectly ordinary life. That changes when Atticus comes to defend Tom Robinson, a black man being accused of the rape of a white woman.
The first way in which Atticus is a hero is found in his seemingly unlimited amount of empathy for others. Atticus, in his daily frequent imparting of bits of wisdom to his children, once said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (p29,30)
He not only repeated this advice continuously to his children, he lived by it himself. For example, Bob Ewell. Even after a totally one-sided trial, the racial prejudice in the town people leads to innocent Tom Robinson being sentenced to death. Bob Ewell, the father of the claimant, however, is not satisfied with the verdict, feeling that he has been insulted during the trial, and the next day comes to face Atticus. Bob leaves after vowing revenge and literally spitting in his face. Atticus, after wiping everything off, then serenely wishes Bob a good night. After the incident, Atticus says to his son,
Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand? (p218).
This dialogue not only shows understanding Atticus has of others, it also shows the self-sacrifice he is willing to make. In this one example, Atticus displays his amazing ability to understand others. This ability originates from his inner strength, in which he uses to forget his own personal feelings, and take another person’s perspective, which other people can sometimes find to be very difficult.
Another of Atticus’s characteristics which makes him a hero is his gentleness and patience. Saint Francis de Sales once said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength,” and similarly, it is Atticus’s gentle and patient manner that reveals his true strength. For instance, Atticus never laid a hand on either of his children, nor punish them in any method involving shouting or force, as many fathers do. Rather, Atticus reasoned with them, and made efforts to have them see the wrong in their behavior. With his gentleness and ever-open arms, in a way, Atticus plays the role as both a father and a mother to his children. Another example is in the country jail. Noisy, enraged mobs frequently appeared at the entrance to the jailhouse, intent on killing Tom. In response to this, Atticus started staying outside the building all night, reading. When facing the furious people, he used neither force or swears. Instead, he talked to them slowly and calmly, in a gentle voice. Surprisingly, every time, Atticus was able to suppress the anger and violence in the people. This shows that, “the pen is mightier than the sword” as is the common phrase.
Finally, if for nothing else, Atticus must be called a hero because of his integrity and moral courage. There are various examples of this in the story, and the clearest one is the very fact that Atticus chose to represent and defend Tom Robinson at his trial. The setting of this book is set in the 1930s, when slavery was legal and when racial prejudice was firmly rooted in the minds of the people. Atticus obviously knew this, moreover that it was inevitable that he would receive hate and anger from the townspeople should he choose to take Tom’s side. He probably also predicted that Tom’s trial, although the evidence clearly showed Tom was innocent, would not end out very well. Nonetheless, as Atticus once said to Jem,
…courage is [not] a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do… (p112)
Atticus summoned his moral courage and this gave him the strength to make the decision. This clearly proves what kind of person Atticus is; someone who pushes on, no matter what is in his way, for what he believes is right. Atticus believed that it was right that Tom should receive a fair trial, and that it was his duty to make sure it happened.
When one looks at Atticus Finch, in his three-piece suit and his book as a constant companion, by appearance they
might only see a quiet, calm and polite man. But it is the inner strength that makes a hero. Atticus Finch may be no more than an average person in an average town, but with his empathy, gentleness, and integrity as his powers, he is a hero.
CITATION: (Lee, Harper, and Ruth Benton. Blackmore. To Kill a Mockingbird. London: Hodder Murray, 2007. 29-30. Print.)
In Time: An Economic Critique
“For a few to be immortal, many must die.” This is the principle of the future society the movie <In Time> takes place in. Through the development of technology, each person is engineered to stop aging once they become twenty-five. However, then the population would continually increase, and eventually the increasing demand for resources would outweigh the supply. This is why “the system” was created. In this way the system acts as a mechanism which keeps the population in check, ensuring enough people die. Let us look further into the economic system that forms the basis of the society. There are few aspects that lead us to question the feasibility of some events in the movie.
The first aspect is that time, the universal unit currency and basis of the economy, is continually disappearing. Let us take the example of “money” when comparing it to “time” as currency. When the consumer spends money in purchasing a good or service, it ultimately goes to the producer, or provider of the product. Such trades are made everywhere in the market, and the money moves around one pocket to another. Yet, it still stays within the boundaries of the market it was issued in, and the total amount of money within the market stays the same, it is only a matter of distribution. In the movie, time is being used in two different types of trades. The first trade is no different to the one mentioned above with money; between the consumer and producer. However, the second type is different. An individual’s time is continuously being paid as an opportunity cost to live. For example, for every minute a person lives, the time on their watch decreases that same amount. To live five minutes, you must pay five minutes of currency. In this trade, the producer does not exist, and the time spent simply “disappears.” It does not end up in possession of another. This means that unless the government, or another group of authority “creates” and distributes time to precisely match the rate at which it is leaking, either deflation or inflation would occur in the market. However, seeing the authorities powerless to do anything about the people crossing time zones with stolen time, the level of security and “time management” does not seem thorough enough to do so.
Over the course of the movie, the two protagonists work to collapse the system that has oppressed the poor, and in the end they succeed, by causing hyperinflation. They start by stealing a million years, and distribute this to the poor people in the ghettos. The movie makes it seem so simple and quick, however, we must approach the process looking for loopholes. The facts are that hyperinflation is nearly impossible in such a society, and even if it occurs, the market will soon bring itself back to its original state. This is because of the characteristics of the currency, “time.” As mentioned previously, “time” as currency differs significantly from “money.” Time is continuously being spent to buy time for the consumer’s life. In doing so, the currency simply evaporates into thin air. The amount of time existing within circulation is decreasing non-stop. Therefore, even if a giant amount of time was released into circulation, after a certain period of time, the people originally from the ghettos will use up their time, and be forced to return, back to their jobs and their poor lifestyle. The rich, having more time than these “newly-rich,” will be able to sustain themselves for a longer time. At the end of the day, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will again form, possibly even further, as the rich release their wrath as punishment for the rebellious lower-class of society.
The third aspect deals with the aftermath of the system’s collapse. Even after supposing that the protagonists have successfully brought down the entire system, there are side-effects that must be considered. They might even have made the situation worse, because they have created a situation where there results a huge imbalance of supply and demand. Before, the working class in the ghettos were pressured to work. If they chose not to, the opportunity cost was their own life. In short, the poor worked producing goods and services for the rich, in order to prolong their own lives. However, now that these people are not in any danger of dying, they have quit their jobs, and started crossing the borders between their time zones, and the ones of the rich. Soon, the supply of products will dramatically plummet since the factories they normally worked in have halted production, and at the same time the demand for such products will become larger than ever, as they have joined the consumer group. This means that although there would be many consumers willing to pay, the society would start to lack even basic commodities for them to buy. Any products, especially ones essential for survival, will skyrocket in value, possibly causing hyperinflation. Additionally, if the system is gotten rid of, this means that society is back to square one; the mechanism controlling the population level is now gone. Without the system, the society must face the same supply and demand imbalance problem again. Technology has already made it possible for everyone to have an eternal life. Who will be sacrificed? Although the system that keeps time has been disposed of, we can predict that another one will take its place.
The movie <In Time> takes place on an interesting premise, a society where time is equivalent to money. This is turn creates a unique economy, one that is different from our own in reality. There are several flaws in it, which where discovered in the characteristic of “time” as currency, that it disappeared from the market circulation. This also caused the method the protagonists used to collapse the system, hyperinflation, to turn out to be infeasible, since the market would soon be back to normal, leaving the class difference untouched. Last but not least, when assuming the system has collapsed, the consequences it leaves in its wake will be extremely difficult to deal with. First, that the production of goods and services will stop, and second, that now that everyone lives forever, another system which controls the population will be implemented. Since, for a few to be immortal, many must die.
CITATION: In Time. Dir. Andrew Niccol. Perf. Amada Seyfried and Justin Timberlake. 2011. Film.