Senseless

by Winter on February 13, 2017

Some say that the Civil War was a war the South can’t forget and the North can’t remember.  Growing up, I thought the Civil War happened sometime during the 1940’s.  I didn’t realize it was 100+ years prior because my family, cousins, and Southern friends talked about it as though it had happened yesterday. Thinking about it, I realize these memories of my family history are important. They make up a large part of who I am and what I see in the world around me.

Sherman and his troops stayed in the family home on his march from Atlanta to Savannah. The story I was told is that for weeks Sherman sent spies ahead. One of their stops was at my Great Grandfather’s store.  He would offer them food and on their departure, give them money.  (I know this is a rabbit hole we could go down. Was he a Union sympathizer,  a clever businessman anticipating the future, or simply a nice guy?)

Family history says that the horses were taken to the woods, gold was buried, the men went off to fight, and my Great Grandmother was left to meet Sherman when he arrived. Who knows? Maybe it was the fact that my Great Grandfather was kind to the spies. Maybe it was the food and the money he gave them. At any rate, they didn’t burn the family home and as a result, I have an iron bed that was in the home when Sherman and his troops stayed there.

On more than one occasion I have wondered what it must have been like, to live at a time when brother fought against brother, when strangers took your food, when your home could be invaded at any moment by your own countrymen. What was it like to see Sherman and his troops marching down the road toward you?

Until recently, these thoughts have been in the back of my mind, occasionally popping into my conscious awareness. Now, I frequently wonder if we are living in another pre-Civil War time? We certainly aren’t civil to each other. We don’t listen, we think our point of view is the only point of view, and there are no gray areas.

Everyone has the right to an opinion.  But how do we cease to cooperate with what we find offensive?

Our world is noisy. We talk all the time. Can we listen? Can we listen, really listen, to someone who has a differing viewpoint? Can we remember how to feel, to sense? I worry that if we cannot, we will know the suffering of a Civil War up close and personal.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.“(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

The Master observes the world but trusts his Inner Vision”. (The Tao)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Doughty February 13, 2017 at 10:44 pm

WOW!! What an interesting story, Winter! Your comments are right on. I think and hope we as a society are still at the point that if we someone fall and need help, we would help before asking their political persuasion….Who knows where this will go. All we have is the present and awareness, where our power is.

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Richard February 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm

I feel the same way. This constant bickering and insisting that we all think and feel the same way, coming from all sides is reminiscent of a bunch of kindergartners without adult supervision. Where are the adults? Do we have any left in seats of power? Any who can make themselves heard above the din of derision?
I watched an interesting doc on PBS’s Independent lens last night called, Accidental Courtesy, by Matt Ornstein.
“A musician’s unusual, controversial hobby: trying to befriend members of KKK, many of whom never met a black person.”
Very unique approach to dealing with a very old and extremely violent problem.
I agree with his approach. We must all as individuals confront our own prejudices honestly and humbly in order to see our own part in this problem. Especially the deeply buried almost DNA connected familial and tribal beliefs we hold. Then sit down together and talk honestly with each other. There may be a lot of yelling and screaming in the beginning, I believe moistly based in fear, but if we stay engaged in conversation we aren’t fighting. We are resolving.
It is a choice I believe. It’s not a hard and fast law. It’s just beliefs that need a thorough investigation.
I could go on, but I think that’s enough for now.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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S. February 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Why are demagogues so effective? Perhaps because they remove the challenging work of reflective thought, which can be a burden in an age of endless streams of facile chatter?

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Elaine G McGillicuddy February 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Dear Winter,
What a deep rooted family tree you come from! It’s more than fascinating; you have inherited genes from ancestors who faced times that may mirror ours.
Thank you for your thoughtful sharings. That quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery is also one of my favorites.
Elaine

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