Davis, Jefferson

Davis, Jefferson: (n) man who served as president of the Confederacy throughout its existence.

I’m not brave.

I am not a warrior for the truth.

I am not the kind to run up, state my opinion and stand my ground.

I prefer to appear from behind with a squirt gun, spray everyone and scamper away.

But there are certain things that elevate my consciousness, stimulate my “god-image” and demand that I build a fortress.

I spent most of my adult life living in the American South.

On one occasion, I overheard a gentleman talking about hosting a “minstrel show” in the community. I immediately assumed I misunderstood what he said, but when he sounded it out for me slowly, I realized that he intended on producing a program that was begun in the Confederacy after the Civil War, which allowed white people to dress up in blackface and make fun of the Negroes.

I was confused.

I thought minstrel shows had been outlawed years ago.

Now, here was the word, flying through the air as if it had wings.

For a moment I was emblazoned with a ready hostility—but still, tepidly opined, “Aren’t those illegal?”

The man became indignant and explained that minstrel shows were part of the heritage of the South and gave the people in that region a sense of pride over what had been pursued attempted by President Jefferson Davis and all the Rebels.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Freedom,” he replied.

Even if I were to buy in to the idea that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis were just trying to “protect their way of life,” I would still be left with a stark anomaly.

If the Civil War was all about “state’s rights,” standing up to Washington, D. C., and not being pushed around anymore, why not just free the slaves and change the dynamic?

If it really wasn’t a malicious adventure to keep four million kidnapped human beings in chains and forced labor, why not just take the higher ground and convince the entire world that you were merely out to sanctify your choices instead of imprison human flesh?

Jefferson Davis was not a nice man.

I suppose if you sat down and had a drink with him and shared some boiled crawdads, you might find him amiable.

But on the inside was a greedy, corrupt man who insisted that black humans were mongrels and needed white people to help them reason.

And he did all of this standing in front of a church, holding a Bible in his hand.

Custer’s Last Stand

Custer’s Last Stand: The defeat of Colonel George A. Custer and his cavalry detachment by a large force of Native Americans at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

It was Franklin Roosevelt who changed the game.

Since FDR, our Presidents have more or less taken on the appearance of being the CEO for a large corporation. Now granted, we’ve had some rotten pickles in the barrel.

But generally speaking, the job of President of the United States changed as of Franklin Roosevelt—because he found himself in a situation where for the second time, like the Civil War, our country was on the verge of collapse—this time by poverty.

Stability was needed.

A bit of tenderness.

And certainly a vision for all the people.

I share this with you because before President Roosevelt, the men who served in the executive office were a rag-tag mixture of renegades, scoundrels, bookworms and inefficient scholars.

Into such an atmosphere arrived a young gent named George Armstrong Custer.

He came in a season when being overbearing, irreverent and unable to take orders was helpful. We were in the middle of a war and the country was desperately in need of heroes to step out of the shadows and defeat the Confederacy.

Born in Monroe, Michigan, General Custer was a study in flamboyance and narcissism.

Known for his bravery—which by the end of his life had exposed itself as foolhardiness—he rose to the rank of General, where he believed that from his military might, he could easily run for President and win.

His disregard for the Native Americans was certainly bigoted, if not fringing on genocidal.

But because George Armstrong Custer was unable to listen to anyone else’s counsel or follow any advice but his own, he eventually ran up against a battle which was far beyond his control.

He was soundly defeated and killed when many tribes united at the Little Big Horn under the spiritual guidance of Sitting Bull and the field command of Crazy Horse.

There is only one thing you can learn from General Custer:

Believing you can do something may be considered a virtue, but it rarely, by itself, will take you to the finish line—unless by finish line, you mean you’re finished.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Confederacy

Confederacy: (n) the Confederate states

As I sit quietly, my mind sometimes conjures the memory of something really dumb I have done. I am most comfortable when that piece of idiocy is well in my past.

But it is important, when that nasty memory comes to the forefront, that I own it, regret it and establish how ridiculous it was and how it mustfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
never be done again.

It’s part of being human.

Rationalizing all of our activities and granting them license immediately turns us into assholes.

Assholes, in this instance, are people who think they do not have elements in their past that need to be remembered with shame.

There was a time in this great nation when we denied our creed of the equality of all mankind and decided it was all right to own people as long as their skin was black. So intensely were we deceived that we were willing to go to the battlefield, bleed and die as feuding brothers.

A Confederacy challenged our Union.

It was shameful–a frightening part of our past.Yet it is a chapter of the book we call America.

We have two responsibilities:

  1. Don’t deny it happened
  2. Offer the necessary regret and shame required to eradicate it from happening again by eliminating all the prejudice that brought about such foolishness.

 

 

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British

j-r-practix-with-border-2

British: (adj) of or relating to Great Britain or the United Kingdom

A sense of doom hangs in the air whenever people discuss the Israelis and the Palestinians.Dictionary B

Because they have fought for so long–argued, battled and killed each other–we’re totally and completely convinced that any attempts at arbitration are futile.

I guess I would have a tendency to go along with this perspective, until I consider the relationship between the British and the United States.

Let’s look at it as a panorama:

The British were in charge of the Colonies, and the Colonies, in turn, were so loyal to the King that they fought for him in the French and Indian War.

But it was less than two decades later that the British and the Colonists were at each other’s throats over issues of freedom, taxation without representation and independence.

For seven-and-a-half long years, they struggled with each other, hatefully. And even when the Revolutionary War was over, the British Navy continued to conscript American sailors, claiming that they were really English citizens.

This led to another war.

This time the British burned down Washington, D.C., destroying the White House. So great was the hatred between the two nations that they actually fought the last battle of the War of 1812 in New Orleans after the peace treaty had already been signed. (No instant messaging.)

On top of that, the British government considered entering our Civil War–siding with the Confederacy against the Union. They didn’t do it, but it was touch and go.

So how did we go from this ferocious animosity to being allies in World War II, overthrowing Hitler?

Here’s the truth: we found a common enemy that was more necessary to defeat than maintaining our feud.

Is it possible that the Palestinians and the Israelis could find a common enemy to unite them, and in the process give them the chance to fight side-by-side instead of face-to-face?

I don’t know.

But we human beings are much more likely to unite for a fight than to see and agree.

 

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Asunder

Asunder: (adv) apart, divideddictionary with letter A

In 1861, South Carolina seceded from the Union.

They quit on the idea of being part of the great American dream. The threat had been in the air for many decades.

You can feel free to speculate on what caused this breach. Some people insist it was states’ rights being violated by the federal government. Others will tell you the country was torn asunder by the issue of slavery.

I find the debate to be irrelevant–because even though a war was fought, which cost the lives of more than a million American citizens, what brought this democracy to the brink of destruction is still lurking.

Even though we insist that we are “the United States of America,” our lack of definition and unity on freedom, equality and justice continues to tear us asunder.

We ridiculously talk about “red states” and “blue states” like it’s some sort of game, when actually, a more intelligent glance at the divisions of those states gives you virtually the same map that was present during the Civil War.

When you count the states that were sympathetic to the Southern cause, the red states pretty well reflect the once-organized Confederacy. Likewise, the blue states comprise the Union.

Even though we believe in the power of debate and controversy in this country, we must understand that open wounds continue to seep viral puss, and also are susceptible to further infection.

There are certain things we need to agree upon to keep from destroying our royal decree.

We must define three words, and we must come to agreement on them, or we will continue to debate what should never be questioned:

  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Liberty

And may this humble essayist offer a possible starting ground for the clearing house of understanding.

Freedom: I possess no freedom if you do not possess the same freedom.

Justice: Every person is given an equal interpretation under the law, without prejudice regarding any of his or her choices.

Liberty: We are granted the license to pursue our dreams as long as they do not injure or interfere in the dreams of others.

The reason these definitions are rarely accepted is because they do not always submit to religious propriety, moral uprightness or social calm.

That’s the price you pay for being in a democracy. One person’s freedom is your annoyance. And your forbearance is permission for that person to be free.

We are torn asunder. We have not escaped the decision by South Carolina to leave the Union. And we will not be powerful and productive again until each and every one of us swallows a bit of our pride and self-righteousness and arrives at a solution that will “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

 

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Antietam

dictionary with letter AAntietam: historic site in northwestern Maryland, known as Antietam Creek, the scene of a major Civil War battle in September of 1862.

It was a lost cause.

Unless you’re a careful student of history, you may fail to realize that Abraham Lincoln was probably the most hated man in America.

Not only had he been elected President, causing the South to secede from the Union, but he had also made a decision to surround himself, in his cabinet, with competitors and critics.

When the war began, it was a fiasco. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the South nearly ended the entire conflict with one day’s murder and mayhem. But Lincoln continued, searching for a means to keep the country together, and possibly in the process, heal some old wounds and atone for the sins of slavery.

The problem was, the North couldn’t win a battle. Not even close.

So rather than being considered a great leader or a man of vision, he was viewed by his contemporaries as a clumsy goofball, ill-prepared for the challenge of repairing the breach.

He kept replacing generals in charge of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that someone might grow a backbone or at least field an army.

Lincoln had two goals:

Primary was to keep the Union together, for a reason which he almost singularly held within his breast. Everyone else had varying degrees of indifference on the issue.

But secondly, he realized that emancipating the slaves was not only an important step of contrition, but also would keep England and France out of the war,siding with the Confederacy. But it was certainly difficult to issue any kind of Proclamation in the midst of defeat.

The Battle of Antietam was a standoff, with more soldiers killed on the field than in any war in history, and Lincoln seized on that result, deeming it a moral victory, and set in motion to free the slaves.

Even though the Union became more proficient at war and eventually wore down their Southern brothers, it was the Battle of Antietam that gave Lincoln the doorway to make the Civil War about something other than states’ rights. In doing so, he robbed the countrymen clad in gray of the possibility of gaining international acceptance, therefore stifling their resources to those found within their own borders.

It was enough.

It’s why we still honor Abraham Lincoln today instead of shaking our heads in sadness over another failed Presidency.

Antietam was a bloodbath which ended with no conclusion–except permission for a President to change the rules and certainly, change the world. 

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