Giving People a Reason

«Some folks don’t—like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with ’em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough-but I don’t say the hell with ’em, see?»
Dill and I said, «No sir.»
«I try to give ’em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey—that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.»
«That ain’t honest, Mr. Raymond, making yourself out badder’n you are already—»
«It ain’t honest but it’s mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.»
«To Kill a Mockingbird» by Harper Lee

Recently stumbled upon the following images from the comic adaptation of «To Kill a Mockingbird» (shorter but still true to the story, IIRC).

Image from «To Kill a Mockingbird» by Harper Lee and illustrated by Fred Fordham (2018)
Image from «To Kill a Mockingbird» by Harper Lee and illustrated by Fred Fordham (2018)

I wonder whether Mr. Raymond doesn’t have a point here. But I also wonder, whether it isn’t too much playing the defensive. Then again, he was isolated in that town, with him marrying a black woman and having mixed-race children during that time in that place.

And I guess there are many other people for whom that strategy could work out. After all, how was it, people don’t want to be ordinary, but they want to be normal. If you are not perceived as normal, life isn’t much fun (until it gets better later).

But it is an interesting strategy … after all, people feel much safer if they (think they) know something, if they have an explanation, if they have a … reason.