Rebel Gray and Union Blue

Part B

My poem started as haiku;
from there it grew, as thoughts will do—
expanded to a broader view
of rebel gray and union blue.
And now I’ll share my thoughts with you.

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Warning: Unqualified Political Views Ahead

Not so long ago I read one blogger’s lengthy and convincing article urging Southern cities and towns to take down all those Confederate memorials. Her argument: the Confederate army were fighting to protect and perpetuate a system that held people in bondage. Why should Americans honor their position and keep these memorials to their struggle? A question I won’t touch, not being black nor living in the South. My grandparents came up to Sask. from Minnesota.

Have you ever noticed, though, when it comes to war, how “causes” often aren’t causes? “Religious wars”, for example. How often are they really about religion? Yes, there’s always convincing rhetoric, but how often don’t money, land grabbing, and power lurk somewhere back there, feeding the flames?

This blogger’s take on the Civil War was limited (at least the angle of her article) to the issue of slavery. Ridding America of “the blot of slavery” was the face put on the declaration of war, but I’ve read a few historians who suggest other factors, too. Northerners may have opposed the idea of slavery but breaking the economic advantage of the prosperous South may have colored the picture as much as the issue of black and white, according to some analysts.

Southerners had accustomed themselves to the idea and practice of slavery, but when the Union army swept down on them, Southerners were fighting as much for their economic and physical survival. I’m not sure how much, if any, negotiation took place before hand, or whether the North simply issued an ultimatum Southern leaders rejected. But, as is usually the case in conflicts, the guys at the top make the decisions and the average Joe & Johnny have to pay the price.

Union General Sheridan, regarding the state of Virginia as the breadbasket of the South, was quoted as saying his army was going to strip Virginia so thoroughly that if a crow flew over it would have to bring its own lunch. If the leader of an opposing army about to unleash his troops on your area or country would make a statement like that, would you be thinking ideology — or would you be desperate to save your home and family? It’s only in looking back that we paint stories in their most popular colours.

One book I read describes the experience of Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Believers in peace, not wishing to take sides in this conflict, they saw their farms fall into the hands both armies, their livestock slaughtered, their young men arrested by one or the other side. They were hard-pressed to survive those bleak years.

The Civil War, we know, was a long and bloody conflict. And one thing quickly showed up when it was over: a better life for black folks was never the goal. After crushing the Confederacy, the Union army marched off and left Southern blacks to the mercy of some quite bitter white neighbours. Read the history; it’s not pretty. Black families that moved North soon learned that they’d face as much, if more subtle, discrimination there.

A great book on this topic: The Little Professor of Piney Woods: The story of Professor Laurence Jones, written by Beth Day Romulo, © 1955. It’s incredible what one man can do when he puts his heart into overcoming prejudice with gentleness and making life better for his people. He fought a tough battle against poverty and prejudice — and won.

Thankfully a lot of healing has taken place; I trust a lot more will yet. Unity and equality are worth fighting for, but these battles are best fought in people’s hearts. As Jesus once explained: all our actions, loving or hateful, spring from what we believe and desire in our hearts. Think of Charlie Brown’s “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!” That’s a heart issue.

David, who blogs at Hokku, pointed out in a recent post that some folks are preaching love, acceptance, and tolerance, yet trying so hard to silence those who don’t hold the same opinions as themselves. It takes an honest heart to recognize that “It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Enough musing. It’s Monday morning and I have work to do.

The Joyous Gifts

cropped-abstract-sky.jpeg

by Edgar Guest

A book to read, an easy chair,
a garden when the days are fair,
a friend or two life’s path to share.

A game to play, a task to do,
a goal to strive for and pursue,
sweet sleep to last the whole night through.

Such wisdom as will man befit
to sit with learned sage and wit
discussing life and holy writ.

Some judgment as to right and wrong,
the sense to value mirth and song,
with these the humblest man is strong.

With these the humblest man can fine
his path with countless pleasures lined:
contentment, pride, and peace of mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the book Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

“Going to the Dogs”

Today my mind has been tumbling bits and pieces of the latest news and all the implications, real or imagined, for our world today. A rather unprofitable pursuit, since my mulling makes not a speck of difference in the grand scheme of things.

But we do hear news that disturbs us. Then my mind went back to a song recorded in 1965, “The Eve of Destruction,” and I had to smile just a bit. We were in the Cold War years and someone pushing the button and wiping the world out with atomic warfare was everyone’s dread.

Back 52 years ago. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nam war, the KGB. We lived through all of that. We here in Canada lived through the Quebec Referendum and were not split into two nations. Then the world survived Y2K. About the time we thought things were going well 9/11 hit us all pretty hard. Air traffic around the world was frozen and we in the Western world wondered what would come next. Now President Trump is leading the US and I gather from recent reports that we’re on the Eve of Destruction again.

Yes, we’re facing serious matters one doesn’t want to take lightly, but I did think of this little poem. It pulled my mind out of the whirlpool of dark thoughts, so I decided to post it, hoping it will give someone else a glimmer of hope.

GOING TO THE DOGS

My grandad, viewing earth’s worn clogs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his house of logs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in the Flemish bogs
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his old skin togs
said things were going to the dogs.
There’s one thing that I have to state:
the dogs have had a good long wait.

Author Unknown

Dog worried.jpg

 

Hold Still!

by Margaret Penner Toews

Wee little hummingbird, caught in a wire,
Halt, little bird, or your wings will tire:
In your little-bird world your plight is dire!
Hold still, wee bird, hold still!

Wee little hummer, don’t flail, don’t fight!
If you’d stop your frenzy you’d be all right.
It’s the flailing that causes your awful plight.
Hold still, little bird, hold still.

Is your wee little scream a little bird prayer?
How can I tell you, wee bird, I care?
You pause at last and numbly stare.
Don’t be afraid! Hold still.

Spent, despairing, you rest your wing.
I reach. I touch. What a fragile thing,
The delicate body quivering,
A hummingbird, holding still!

In my palm you tarry a little bit,
Then shake, and away like a breath you flit.
I stand astonied at the thought of it…
A hummingbird, holding still!

How tiny the feather you left behind!
…And then of a sudden there comes to mind
The truth God wanted for me to find:
“Hold still, my child, hold still.

“Stop your frenzy and rest in Me.
It’s the flailing that hurts you, don’t you see?
Whate’er your predicament, trust in Me.
Hold still, my child, hold still.”

.
From her book FIRST A FIRE
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews

The Family That Sings Together

Real Singing

by Edgar Guest

You can talk about your music and your operatic airs
and your phonographic record that Caruso’s tenor bears,
but there isn’t any music that such wondrous joy can bring
like the concert when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.

When the suppertime is over and the mother starts to play
some simple little ditty, and our concert’s under way
and I’m happier and richer than some millionaire or king
when I listen to the kiddies and their mother as they sing.

There’s a sweetness most appealing in the trilling of their notes;
it is innocence that’s pouring from their little baby throats,
and I gaze at them enraptured for my joy’s a real thing
every evening when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.

.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company