Atticus Finch in the Flesh: Sam Waterston

For about 5 years I was raised on one of those spiritual, “alternative communities”  in the Napa Valley of Northern California.  While it had it’s flaws, it was mostly a great experience.  For example, I did not experience lies, misrepresentation or betrayal  until my family left “the land” and joined society.  I had an intrinsic trust that life was fair.  As you can imagine, I had a rude awakening to the realities of life when I entered society and the public school system at the age of about 12 years old. 

Yet somehow through it all I still clinged to a sense of idealism that life was fair.

There was a time in my life when I wanted my dad to be Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird

There was even a time when I wanted to become Atticus as an adult.  Right after college and for most of my 20’s I was particularly idealistic (this is more balanced with some realism now).  Contemplating Finch’s character, who fought against injustice in the world, brought tears to my eyes.  The actor who played him–Gregory Peck,–also played a character in the film A Gentleman’s Agreement who fought against anti-Semitism.

It’s probably not surprising that I also loved characters like Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith in the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Even back in 1992 before the Green and Systems Theory movements were in the mainstream I loved those idealistic independent films such as Mindwalk which was loosely based on Fritjof Karpa’s groundbreaking book The Turning Point. In this film I particularly loved the politician character played so well by Sam Waterston.  Here is a clip:

So imagine my excitement when I heard that Sam Waterston would be interviewed by the dean of Fordham Law School at an event called “Atticus Finch in the Flesh: A Conversation with Law and Order’s Sam Waterston!”

I attended this event on November 19th and it was all it shaped up to be, with Sam Waterston demonstrating that he is not only an extremely talented actor, but incredibly intelligent and knowledgable about topics such as the law and ethics. 

The dean asked great questions related to how Sam thinks our society has been affected by shows such as Law and Order, and that it means to have a system that is “fair.” One of Waterston’s comments filled me with a sense of hope for humanity…he said that he thinks one of the reasons people love shows such as Law and Order is because people deeply care about the notion of fairness.

What does fairness mean to you?


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