The greatest thing that came out of the American Civil War came after the cessation of hostilities. After four years of deadly, devastating, agonizing war and over 600,000 Americans had died, the armies came to a halt. The killing ended, but the suffering continued for many of the wounded and those whose homes and fortunes had gone up in smoke and been left as rubble.
Men released from prisons and hospitals went home - some on horseback or wagons, some on trains, on riverboats, and some on foot. Home they went to family and friends, very few finding home the way it had been, and not finding those people who had been swept away or had perished.
Rebuilding began, and a miracle started to unfold. That miracle was reconciliation. Reconciliation began to take root and grow and blossom and flourish. Even through the rocky times of Reconstruction, there were those men who led the way toward a stronger America, who respected their former foes and learned to work with them and honor them. So many who had suffered through the war needed hope and a future to anticipate. Gifted men and women found ways to encourage and build communities of trust and respect.
It took many years to heal the wounds of that war. In fact, some of those wounds are still throbbing. Inconceivably, there are those today who would aggravate that pain and reignite anger and sting with fear and confusion, rather than build on the foundation of reconciliation that was laid by our forebears. It’s a new struggle for power and control, one that has been waged over and over in history. It’s a tragic cycle of humanity that has the smell of inevitability.
After the turmoil of war, peace comes and people rebuild, regain strength and power. Eventually, contentment and complacency set in, and the guard is dropped. Insidious evil begins to grow and threaten the peace, and as the history of the late unpleasantness is forgotten, divisive elements take hold, and good people are forced to arm and defend themselves.
Today we are seeing divisive issues produce tension and hostility. The history of the War Between the States is being managed by the victor, but lately with a vengeance, not conciliation. Accusations are leveled, blame is assigned, and guilt and shame promoted. All of this is under a cloak of righteousness borrowed from Lincoln’s ploy to unify his allies against the South under a single cause near the end of the war. This narrative has eclipsed all consideration of other causes of the war, to the point of them hardly being mentioned.
What is being done in America today is similar to what has been done in communist and fascist nations through history, pitting people groups and political entities against each other with no intention of reconciliation. Slavery is the lynch pin of the left’s popular culture narrative. If you pull that pin, the wheels fall off of their argument. The slavery issue is being used to divide the American people through promoting victimhood of minorities and condemnation of half the nation. The left is striving to drive a stake into the heart of the American struggle and rewrite American history with the unswerving purpose of destroying the United States of America as we know it today.
A more pervasive problem was, and is, racism, which was/is not limited to the South – but that doesn’t suit the left’s agenda. Slavery was not limited to only the South, either, but the contemporary narrative promotes the idea that it was only a Southern institution.
Booker T. Washington made a wise statement: “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” But, it’s not just black people who are profiting this way today, many political organizations are profiting - at the expense of all of America. The federal government has even invested in this narrative as it has been “contextualizing” all the civil war battlefields with “interpretations” that focus almost entirely on slavery and little else.
Today’s citizens are woefully ignorant of our national history. Random, on the street interviews show this all too clearly. The mainstream media has become the sole source of information for most citizens, which programs the thoughts and opinions of the populace as the media deems fit. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is patently corrupt, offering not factual reportage, but biased or prejudiced commentary on events with skillfully edited video clips designed to portray a view that is actually far left of center. And, any challenge of this misuse of power is met with accusations of depriving freedom of speech. Yet, it’s not just the mainstream media that is promoting the left, it’s also academic institutions, from public schools through the universities.
And, there are numerous local and national political and social organizations that are in confluence, some with deceitful names ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to People for the American Way and many others. These advertise as “American,” but are far left of the founding fathers’ intentions for America to the point of being anti-American.
At the time of the country’s founding, the Bible was the most read book. Citizens had a good and common understanding of right and wrong as well as a familiar Judeo-Christian narrative based upon the Bible. Laws were based upon the Ten Commandments. Today, there is widespread rejection of Biblical references. The Ten Commandments are virtually disallowed in the public forum. Christian prayer is challenged or even disallowed in meetings of governmentally funded organizations from city councils to schools. Culturally, there has been a reversal of every one of the Ten Commandments through misrepresentation or misinterpretation.
Personal principles and moral values have been confused to the point of reversal. America is descending into a dark period. Isaiah 5:20 states, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
To credit slavery as the sole reason for the war is continuing Lincoln’s use of it to provide a high moral ground and focus for his war effort. It is an easy move to make, to draw support through sympathy for those who have been oppressed. What neither he nor the contemporary parrots mention is that slavery was not the only issue that caused the war, or that slavery was and is an issue for many nations, both then and now. The equating of all things Confederate with only the slavery issue falls far short of a true understanding of those times or today’s concerns. Not only that, but it reignites the conflict of 150 years ago and again divides a nation that has struggled to reconcile the differences of that conflict ever since. It promotes not unity, but only division.
Make no mistake, this is a perilous schism that must be peacefully reconciled, or it will tear apart our country in a way that could be more devastating than the civil war of the 1860’s. Our popular culture feasts on bad news, anything terrible, mean and demeaning. The division created between perpetrator and victim in this issue is perpetually aggravated, promoting and extending those roles.
The divisions in our culture today are similar in many respects to the divisions of America in 1860. Yes, slavery was a terribly divisive issue, a stain on the American flag since before the founding. But, there were many other contentious issues that divided the nation and need to be recognized and respected by historians and educators and understood by our people at large today for better appreciation of the hardships suffered by both sides – then and now. To assign all the blame for the war to slavery alone is to do a great disservice to the true history of that time and rob us of a full understanding.
Politically, there was power shifting in Congress from the Southern states to the Northern states as population centers were shifting northward with immigrants arriving from Europe. Economically, the South had a great deal of agricultural wealth coveted by some in the North as the North began to grow in industrial strength. This brought on trade conflicts over tariffs. The growth of the federal government began to challenge the rights and responsibilities of states. The rural agrarian culture of the South was challenged by the ascending industrial might of the North. Animosities rose and tempers grew short. Publications promoted one side over the other. Society fostered mass movements to promote opposing causes. Armies assembled and armed. And then, the brutal armies in blue invaded the South. God in His wisdom allowed the nation to plunge into war. As preachers would say, “We have turned away from God, and He has let His judgement fall.”
War brings out the best and the worst in men. It also humbles men and convinces them of their need to call upon their maker. Abraham Lincoln was so humbled by the war that he said in his second inaugural address: “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. … but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered... The Almighty has His own purposes.” He concluded with this, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
The conflict killed over 600,000 Americans, a terrible tragedy for nearly every American family. But, the struggle shaped our country for many years to come. Through reconciliation, a lot of good actually came out of it. And a lot of good men were recognized on both sides. Those men have been memorialized in monuments and statues all across this country, in towns and national military park battlefields. Their stories need to be told and retold. Great energies were expended to reconcile the divided country. And the healed country became much stronger than it was before. But, this modern crusade to remove monuments is only promoting division and animosity, weakening us all.
Robert E. Lee said, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today.” And, “A nation without memories is a nation without liberty.” He also said after the war, “We poor sinners need to come back from our wanderings to seek pardon through the all-sufficient merits of our Redeemer. And we need to pray earnestly for the power of the Holy Spirit to give us a precious revival in our hearts and among the unconverted.”
George Orwell wrote in 1984: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
If we want to understand the problem, we need to stop assigning blame to another and begin by looking in the mirror. Like Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” And, the issu focused upon should not be the blame for slavery, but resolving racism – and reverse racism.
Reconciliation is needed between men and between God and man, not division. May God have mercy on us all.
Quotes of tyrants:
If you can cut the people off from their history, then they can be easily persuaded.
We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn
toward those who disagree with us.
If we can effectively kill the national pride and patriotism of just one generation, we will have
won that country.
An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.
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You have beautifully written a post that every citizen should read and understand. I was sick when I saw Commissioner Beck introducing his bill. I thought to myself, "now this isn't going to stop blacks killing blacks in Chattanooga; if anything it should keep the police working overtime trying to maintain the peace."
Thank you for your enlightening post, I can only hope everyone reads it with an open mind and without thinking what mainstream media wants them to think. All sheep eventually fall off the cliff, only those willing and eager to hear the truth will be left standing on the edge watching.