27 August 2011

Very Well, Alone.

I’m not racist, I’m Southern.  There’s a big difference.  I don’t defend slavery.  I don’t wish the South had won, though I admire the military genius of Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, which is the only reason the South lasted as long as it did. The landed plantation gentry (a class almost all of our Founding Fathers were part of, by the way) sent hundreds of thousands to good, honest, poor, working class men on both sides to needless deaths trying to save their leisurely, genteel, land-wasting, entitlement lifestyle that exploited defenseless human beings from across an ocean and  well, pretty much everybody else, too, except themselves.  Starting the war by firing on Ft. Sumter was the dumbest thing the South could have done.  They started a war they couldn’t win.   The majority of Confederate soldiers neither owned slaves nor knew anyone who did.  These men were the poor, hard-scrabble farmers that my grandparents still were at the turn of the 20th century, on par with the black family up the road.  My Mama told me stories of being given food by a black family when Mama’s family had nothing and the black folks didn’t have much more.   All you revisionists, hear this: the Civil War was NOT caused by slavery.  It was caused by secession.  Lincoln sent the troops in to stop secession.  Read the man’s own words.  Now, to be sure, slavery caused secession, but it came to blows because Lincoln’s hand was forced by secession and the South's attack on Sumter.  The killing of Lincoln was also a terrible thing for the South.  Lincoln would have been a strong moderating hand that would have made Reconstruction far easier and less destructive for the South.  But there’s no defense for slavery.  It was wrong for thousands of years before the war, it was wrong in 1861, and it’s still wrong today in far too many countries where it's still going on right now. 

What I DO defend is Southern manners, charm and hospitality.  You say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” to anyone older than you, and many who are younger.  It’s a sign of respect, a recognition that our God told us to “consider others more than yourself,” and we took Him serious.  If you have something that will help your neighbor, you help him.  You don’t wait to be called in by FEMA, you don’t make your neighbor sign a waiver, if something needs pickin up, you pick it up, whether anyone is watchin or not.  You don’t need someone to praise you to motivate you to do what needs doing.  You pull yer own weight and earn the respect of the team.  Meanwhile, you respect others; NOT once they earn it, but until they prove their NOT worthy of it.

I’m not rich or uncaring, I’m conservative.  I believe the government can’t give you anything it didn’t take away from someone else, and keep a cut for their trouble.  I’m TEA, but I’m reasonable and understand that not everyone agrees with me about what needs to happen right NOW.  We need to get our runaway government back under control, but we also need more revenue, and that means higher taxes on somebody, or at least, better collection of the taxes we already have, and throw out the lifers in Congress who believe they “work hard” for their $175,000 a year salary (plus premium insurance, PLUS lifetime retirement income I’ll never achieve in a lifelong career in the REAL world).  I’m reminded of a saying Abraham Lincoln made when he took office and found that an awful lot of his “supporters” expected cushy government jobs in return: “Too many pigs for the teats.”

I’m not stupid, ignorant or uneducated, I’m country.  Even though I grew up in the “big city” of Memphis, my Mama and Daddy raised me to be the kind of people they were: simple, as in uncomplicated.  I can’t say I’ve learned every lesson they taught me, even now, at 46, I’m still reminded of things they did and said when I was growing up, even though Mom’s been gone almost 3 years, and Dad nearly 13.  They didn’t have Facebook friends, they had face-to-face friends who had forged a real relationship with them over a period of years.  My Dad would have thought video games were a pointless waste of time, but he played things with me like “fishing” and “camping,” using actual lures and tents, not Xs, Os, triangles, and squares, sittin on our butts.  The only reset button we had was to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go again.  We didn’t get “gamer’s thumb,” we got skinned knees and sore bottoms and tetanus shots.

I was not abused as a child, though I knew the dual purpose of my Dad’s belt or a nice, thin hickory switch.  Truth be told, I didn’t get it as often as I deserved it.  I ate what my Mama cooked for ALL of us, and was grateful to have it cooked for me.  The universal cure for ADHD was to sit down and shut up, and act like you had some raising, and buddy, I did it when I was told to!  The universal curfew was the street lights, and somebody’s front yard was our playground.  I remember a friend’s Dad cutting the grass shorter by one mower’s width in a diamond shape for “base lines.”  My parents knew the parents of my friends from standing around talking to them while we played.  Everyone on the street knew who the “bad kid” was and what his parents’ drug of choice was.  You didn’t admire the punks, you pitied them, and if you tried to pull the same kinda stuff they did, you got a booster shot of the aforementioned belt/switch.

 There’s never a better time to take a stand than when you must stand alone.

I try to be a nice guy, honorable, dependable, and quicker to serve than to be served.  I don’t always succeed, and I may have opinions that will make you shake your head and laugh, but they’re MY opinions, usually born out of experience, thought, and investigation.  We may disagree, but you have a right to be wrong if you choose.  I’m not the handsomest feller you’ll run across, but I’m real.  I may look like crap, but it’s MY crap!
All of this is to say, whether you like it, love it, or consider me a mindless, Foxnews-reading, heartless Republican tea-bagger zealot, I don’t care.  I didn’t form my opinions to please you.  I don’t check the polls to decide what’s right and wrong.  Wrong is wrong even if no one stands up for it.  There’s never a better time to take a stand than when you must stand alone. To coin a phrase by that great theologian, Popeye; “I yam what I yam.”  If you don’t like it, there’s a big wide world out there without me in it.  Enjoy yourself.  I’ll see you when you come to your senses.  

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