Southern Charms

I don’t think Southerners are aware, but outside of the South, no one really cares about the Civil War or its monuments. The world has moved on, the country has changed. It’s on to bigger and better things. It has forgotten about the battered and wounded Confederate soldier, the burned and desecrated white plantations. It doesn’t want to remember the way black men and women were owned like cattle, their children sold for profit, their bodies mercilessly exploited to work the white man’s land, then discarded like old machinery at the end of its usefulness.

The kind of people who could do that sort of thing should be forgotten to history. Nowhere outside of the South does anyone remember that time with a fondness for “the good old days.” No, they were dark days. The evil that lurked there needed to be rooted out and discarded in the same way a slave would pull the weeds that grew between the cotton plants. Rip and pull, then pile in a heap so that the weeds don’t destroy the crop. The soul of a nation hung in the balance. The soul of America cried out for every black mother whose child was taken from her arms. Her black hands sifted through the dirt of a free land only to have her human freedoms dusted over and obliterated. Slavery needed to be ripped out before it destroyed the nation.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
 — Abraham Lincoln

There are so many Southern charms. There are no words capable of describing the delight in drinking ice cold sweet tea from a porch swing on a hot summer day. The cicadas can be heard buzzing with delight in the maple trees. People wave from their pickup trucks when they pass you on a two-lane road. They make idle conversation while you wait in line at Walmart. “It’s gonna be a hot one today.” Your neighbor’s vegetable gardens rival any small farm. Tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. Biscuits and gravy. Sun Drop and Cheerwine. Liver mush. A little bit of moonshine in a mason jar, just in case you get a cold. A Baptist church on every corner. The collective voice of the South is a church choir singing about the everlasting love of Jesus.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:  12-13

For such a righteous, God-loving people, the South has a lot of fear. It fears the other, the new, the different, change. It fears being forgotten. Yet it forgets. For all of its charms, it forgets the men and women it hung from trees, black faces and bodies bloated in the Southern heat, bodies stiffening and swaying, human charms hanging from a demented friendship bracelet with the devil. The South fears retribution for its sins.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
— Romans 1:18

Its monuments stand solid and proud, ghosts of long-forgotten heroes that waged war against America. Monuments cannot save the soul of the South. They cannot wage any real wars — there are no more wars to be waged — America has won. She is fully free. The monuments only stand in the way of progress, a reminder of a time when some Americans could be hung from trees like those that shade a porch swing where I drink my sweet tea.

The South’s monuments stand guard against freedom and for tyranny. They stand against a united America. And when they fall, they crumple and fold into themselves as if they, too, are ashamed.

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
— Abraham Lincoln


11 thoughts on “Southern Charms

  1. One cannot truly celebrate the joys of the South. and there are many, without sweeping away the broken parts. Statues represent those broken parts. Exquisitely written, doc.

    Liked by 2 people

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