In the wake of the Charlottesville, VA protests, one thing has become crystal clear:
- One side is motivated by fear, which leads to anger, anger to hate.
- One side throws around emotionally-charged language, calling the other side traitors to America.
- One side refuses to give any ground, refuses to honestly hear the other side out.
- One side sees the other as everything that’s wrong with this country. If only that side would leave America, she would be truly great again.
- One side has been trying to “white-wash” history for years.
- One side is just itching for another Civil War.
- One side is on a witch hunt, ready to destroy complicated people over voicing their opinions and utilizing their civil right as Americans to freely speak out without fear of repercussions.
- One side can’t or won’t see that where and how the other side lives plays a big role in that side’s opinions on politics, etc.
- One side’s idealism is the most important thing to them, higher than the people who make America great (i.e. Americans), higher than the laws that make America safe, higher than any religious precepts of peace. The idea, and not the reality, is the number one thing.
- One side resembles fascism in it’s complete devotion to the idea, and the utter destruction (so far verbally, reputation-wise, financially) of anyone who even appears to question it. There is no neutrality in this side’s eyes, how much less room is there for all sides?
- One side is more than willing to resort to violence as a catalyst for change, “if necessary.”
- Will one side stop at nothing for their ideal America to be realized? That remains to be seen.
Which side am I talking about? If you only see one side or the other, you are part of the problem. United we stand, divided we fall.
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.
This 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.
“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?
Any 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:
“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?
It 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:
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:
For another (similar) viewpoint concerning honest obituaries, see: