Tagged: opinion

Censoring History: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

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Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

The weekend of July 4th, 2010, my family made the long trek from Dayton, Ohio to New Orleans, LA via a small van stuffed with 4 adults, 2 small kids, and associated gear. We were going to celebrate my Uncle Bill’s birthday with many other family members who hailed (originally) from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

We drove through states with famous cities and places I’d never seen first-hand: Birmingham, AL, Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and finally, New Orleans (pronounced by my family either as New Orleens, or N’Awlins)!

We didn’t get to see much of the city that weekend, but did tour the area around Jackson Square, which included the St. Louis Cathedral, the Moon Walk by the Mississippi River, and other grand buildings with fascinating architecture, razor-sharp palmetto trees, and street artists sketching, painting, etc. for tourists.

IMG_6142_watermarkThis city contains so much varied culture and history, from the French Quarter, Voodoo-mart (no, really!), street musicians playing Jazz (my whole family has a real love for Jazz music), the unique cemeteries, ghost walks, and of course, Mardi Gras celebrations. It certainly was somewhat of a culture and time-warp from the relatively placid Midwest!

The city both intimated and fascinated me. I would love to go back (maybe not in July) for more exploring and history, but recent events have me concerned. What will be left of New Orleans’ history when I go back? Why does it feel like the Civil War is still not over, but has been reinstated by young, vitriolic college grads who only know half the story (history is written by the winners, you know), and who are ashamed (and rightly so) of certain parts of American history? It seems history is being “white washed” to exclude any and every old white Southern man who had something to do with the Confederacy of the mid-1800s.

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Andrew Jackson

“Anti-Southerners” (my term) now consider every Southern state that used to uphold slavery to be on par with Nazism, rather than a sadly common, worldwide institution for survival as agriculture-based communities. Agriculture, I will point out, that Northern states took great advantage of in their myriad textile factories and other trade goods. 

My biggest fear is not the loss of one iconic statue, but the radicalism behind the movement. It didn’t and hasn’t stopped with just one statue being removed from New Orleans, and community leaders are not being open about how many more will go. This is censorship, backed by a religious-type fervor every bit as consuming and destructive as religious-motivated bombings of historical buildings in the Middle East. Will it result in another Civil War?

Be Careful What You Wish For

timeI’ve seen a lot of people, particularly Christians, calling for unity and forgiveness on both sides now the election is over (and they won). The onus is on you, dear people, to offer peace and friendship. For a year or more, you’ve made it clear to half the population of America that “you don’t want ___ here.” Now you are offended they believe you and want nothing to do with you?

At the same time, I keep reading statements on FB, on news sites, on blogs, etc. which include terms like, “butt-hurt” (awful term!), “libtards”, “distasteful among us”, “snowflakes”, etc. How do you expect to heal wounds this way? Or do you really expect to heal wounds at all? It’s handing a peace offering with one hand, while hiding a dagger in the other, then feigning being upset/not understanding when those who feel the full weight of unkindness turn away so they don’t get stabbed. Again.

This is not Christian talk or behavior, it is the lowest treachery. Yet this kind of abuse goes on endlessly (and has for years) in churches and so-called Christian families. You want to know why younger people are staying out of church? This is it. And then you call them immoral and overly sensitive, and consider them “worthy” of more insults.

wasteland_cutAny criticism at all or difference of opinion, then most people (from any side) turn away or lash out. That’s what happens when a party feels the slightest bit threatened or out of control. But to those who feel they won Wednesday morning, it is on you to show genuine friendship, love, and care, if you indeed feel those things, to especially those who believe your words and your vote:

That you don’t really want them in your churches, your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country. That you would be far better off without them. That you would be overjoyed to see them go.

Be careful what you wish for.

Honest Obituaries

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Image copyright by Loura Lawrence


“As long as we have a man’s body, we play our Vanities upon it, surrounding it with humbug and ceremonies, laying it in state, and packing it up in gilt nails and velvet: and we finish our duty by placing over it a stone, written all over with lies.”

~Vanity Fair, William M. Thackeray


It has always been curious to me how, after someone has died, the memories of loved ones tend to whitewash the actions of the deceased, at least in words. We remember them not as they were, but as we wanted them to be. This culturally sacred cow of “never speaking ill of the dead”, comes down through the years of history from Chilon of Sparta, circa 500 BC (http://spartareconsidered.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-spartan-philosopher-chilon-wise.html), who first wrote the phrase, and then from the ancient pagan belief that to talk about the bad things a deceased person has done, will bring bad luck or worse on a home.

Our modern culture is not quite so superstitious, however the practice remains under the assertion of respect. But what if those bad things people won’t say (but are thinking) are true, not merely malicious gossip?

obitIt is assumed that allowing the bereaved to say and think whatever they want or need to say or believe in their time of grief is beneficial to them. Besides, no one wants to further upset an already deeply hurting person. I have always wondered if the practice of issuing dishonest obituaries or eulogies at funerals is truly healthy. Is it good to pretend a person was someone they may not have been? Would it not be better to use a person’s life and death, as an example to those still living? As a call for positive change for a true life well lived?

There is a new trend of mostly younger people bucking this long tradition of saying “good-things-only” about the deceased. Take these truly honest obituaries, for example that sought to educate and bring good changes on issues like child abuse, heroin use, and more:

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/scathing-obituary-nevada-woman/2013/09/13/id/525466/

http://myfavoriteobits.wordpress.com/category/painfully-honest/

http://obituaries.pressherald.com/obituaries/mainetoday-pressherald/obituary.aspx?n=molly-a-parks&pid=174674212&fhid=2691 and http://distractify.com/megan-mccormick/molly-parks-obituary/

So what do you think, dear reader? Are honest obituaries a good idea, or should the past be buried with the dead?

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For more information on the history of funeral customs and superstitions, see:

http://www.funeralinformationsociety.org/yourlastwrites/history.html

For another (similar) viewpoint concerning honest obituaries, see:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/16/obituaries-honesty