Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Heritage is a Dish Best Served Old

A lot of articles lately quote Southerners afraid of one thing: Loss of heritage.

Heritagectomy.

Southerners fear, more than anything else, a removal of their history. They also fear a realization of it.

Appomattox, I'm not kidding, is a foreign word to most Southerners.

Heritage.

Here's the thing: Heritage is not a thing that is taken away. It is a thing one carries about like junk DNA, still in one's very fiber even as he or she continues to evolve, change, grow, and gain distance from that heritage. To be in possession of a heritage, one must be in possession of a past and a future. To have a heritage, one must not be in full possession of a present.

In other words: The past is in you, no matter how useless it is. To have a heritage, you must be in the future at some distance from your own past, and if you keep trying to make that heritage a present, well, you're a stagnant asshole incapable of growth, change, or lacking in any of the adaptation techniques necessary to prolong the species.

As a Southerner, I get the need to celebrate the brave time when my region of the country rose up against the Northern devil, or whatever. Truly, it's a tough call to say some of the grunts in the field just fighting to keep their families safe were traitors and racists. Perhaps some of them weren't guilty as charged--perhaps some of them were just impoverished and desperate young men dying for a cause they didn't fully comprehend just because they wanted to protect Ma back at the homestead.

But does that warrant willful ignorance 150 years later? It's a dry irony to say this, but does slavish dedication to an idea so far gone in the past--gone with the wind--call for such modern dedication?

150 years ago, there was a very dedicated and determined thought that actual human beings were so awful they could only survive if we treated them as cattle. In 1920, those humans finally got the right to vote. Those humans were women.

Heritage is not a thing on which to cling. It's a thing to toss aside, and look at with considerable distance. To keep heritage as a permanent thing--always present, always constant--is to turn it into something else: It is to turn it into a stagnation.

It's like he's pan-handling.
Removing Civil War memorabilia from public lands is not a removal of heritage. Absolutely, we must continue to sift through the dust of our national heritage, to understand how that dust created the soil of our future. But to say this is a denial of heritage, this progress, is to forget we're leaving a heritage of our own, and a pretty poor soil upon which others may build, cultivate, and grow.

Again, here's the thing: If Southerners continue to cling to the past, the past will cling back, pull down, and smother them. That stupid flag will mean nothing to future generations because it will be a shroud wrapping a very large part of a very united country, covering decay and nothing more.

Heritage is junk DNA. Carried with you, and no one knows why. "The South will rise again." Sure. But before that happens, "That strand of DNA involving gills in your neck" will be activated. We'll all regrow neck-gills before the South Rises again, if the South keeps living in the past.

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