Friday, May 15, 2009


How many existing antebellum homes did not get burned during the civil war? All of them.

Now, on to the point of this discourse. The word antebellum is inconsistent with history. While we Southerners have taken it to mean before the US Civil War (or that recent unpleasantness), the word just means "before war". As far as I can tell from reading all sorts of histories, the world has never seen a time without war. Before war would mean Eden to those who follow Father Abraham and the tales found in Genesis. Like the Fountain of Youth, the Garden of Eden is probably a pipe dream.

Likewise, the idea of antebellum. The South did not live in peace before the Civil War. Just ask the poor white people and the descendants of slaves. The big white houses and huge green yards of plantations did not mean peace. The owners of those were cut throat bargainers for slaves, for cattle, for land, for all those things that seem to make life idyllic for the owners wives and daughters. Fights broke out in Washington over who had the right to tell someone what to do or not to do...the federal government (which wasn't very strong), the state governments (which did whatever the wealthiest people wanted done), the plantation owners (because they controlled the land, the food, the money). Certainly not the individuals who did not own plantations.

Before the war! I'd just like to live after the war. Let the fighting cease now - everywhere. Of course, that would not solve the problems of enough resources for the people of the world, but lack of inter-tribal, inter-national fighting would make life easier for most people. Then we could work on seeing that all people have food, clothing, shelter and those things necessary for life.

My idea of what's necessary for life and others' ideas of what is necessary for life are necessarily different. I need food that I like, a house that gives me space, clothes that are becoming and fit, a doctor that I like and access to the medication to make life good and easier for me as I grow know the routine. My goddaughter would probably settle for enough t shirts and stretch pants without holes, some meat for the pot and milk for the table, a house where the windows don't fall out, and doctors that actually considered her situation. Elsewhere in the world, some mothers would want only enough food for their children, shelter from the monsoons or dust storms, water, and a medicine man that could ward off evil.

After the war. How would we act after the war? Would we, the richest countries in the world, seek to help those who don't have even enough water? Would we insist that the families move from their native lands to places where water is more abundant or would we find ways to give them sufficient water where they live? Would we insist that they do things our way or would we help them work out ways to do and live within their mores and beliefs?

After the war? Would we begin to care for the earth? Would we be driven to make more and more money - to gain prestige?

After the war? What would we make of peace?

Oh yeah, that Southern symbol - the magnolia tree - opened its first blossoms here this past week. What a delicate peaceful flower that begins to turn brown and lose its glamour when it's picked.

1 comment:

Fergie said...

Wow, very nice dissertation.