Fingerprints-we leave them everywhere, on everything and everyone that we touch. Fingerprints mark us as unique, the one and only in all of the world. More important, though, is what our fingerprints do not show.

My English 9 Honors students begin the year by studying Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.  Our class discusses the reader’s emotional journey through disbelief to outrage and sorrow as the quaint and sleepy town succumbs to the bitter root poisoning of racism. “It’s not fair. It’s not right,” they argue, frustrated that justice and honor fail to overpower bigotry and ignorance. “But that wouldn’t happen today,” some argue. We know not to be racist.

We then question whether such divisions have really disappeared in our society, and we list groups of people-not only various races, but also old and young, rich and poor, male and female, jock, geek, bully, victim, intelligent, developmentally delayed, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist. The groups go on and on.

Then, we look at our fingerprints, a whole class worth of them, and we realize that, although each print is unique, none reveals whether its owner is black, white, Asian, Native American, rich, poor, popular, or outcast. From our prints, all we can see is that we are beautifully and wonderfully made, and in that knowledge lies our hope.