Can a person work tirelessly?

We hear the word tirelessly a lot, especially during and after a natural disaster. It is often said of rescue workers, “They worked tirelessly.” We’ve heard it used in recent days about the people giving aid to the victims of Hurricane Florence.

Tirelessly is an interesting word. If broken down and taken literally, it seems to indicate an inability to get tired. That doesn’t seem humanly possible to me, so I looked it up in the dictionary.

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition and the Merriam-Webster website (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tireless) gave the most satisfying definition of all the sources I checked. Merriam-Webster defines tireless as follows:

Definition of tireless: seemingly incapable of tiring. Synonym:  indefatigable. Example: a tireless worker

The word “seemingly” makes all the difference. Take out “seemingly” and we have a completely different meaning.

Most of my blog readers probably rolled their eyes and stopped reading after the first paragraph. I can’t blame them. Life is hard. Life is busy. There are more important things than nitpicking the definition of words. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what “tirelessly” means; however, writers must think of such things and try to use the most accurate words in their writing.

Since my last blog post

I continued to follow the news about the flooding left in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly in North Carolina and South Carolina. Since heavy rain reached more than 400 miles inland to the mountains of North Carolina, most of it fell east of the Eastern Continental Divide and, therefore, is draining into the rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Photo by reza shayestehpour on unsplash.com.

Ten days after the hurricane made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, rivers are still rising. Some are predicted to crest tomorrow. Some cities, such as Lumberton, North Carolina (where I lived for five years as a young adult) are expected to be flooded until October 5.

Think about that. Think about a flood that makes your home inaccessible for three weeks. Imagine what these people will have to go home to.

Think about the farmers who are unable to harvest this year’s cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes, or peanuts this year. They depended on the money from those crops to make payments on the expensive equipment those crops require. Did you know that half the sweet potatoes grown in the United States are grown in North Carolina?

The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence has been in the forefront of my mind for more than a week, and the people affected by it will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Recovery won’t be measured in weeks or months. It will be measured in years – long after the storm is no longer making the news headlines.

The levee in Lumberton was constructed years before my arrival there. I never gave the possibility of flooding a thought while I lived there, but now – in the space of just two years – although the levee held, two hurricanes have dumped feet of rain on this flat area on I-95 halfway between Miami and New York. That’s two “500-year floods” in two years.

I’ve taken time to look through some of the photo albums I wrote about in last week’s blog post about Hurricane Florence:  My Heart is in Eastern North Carolina. We had no water damage at our house, and for that we are extremely fortunate. It is good to look at old pictures and remember special trips and memories. I’ll try not to wait until a natural disaster to revisit those photo albums.

Until my next blog post

Remember the people of eastern and central North Carolina and South Carolina who are still dealing with flood waters or the aftermath of flooding due to Hurricane Florence. Likewise, remember the people of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria which struck a year ago.

Think about the thousands of people who continue to work tirelessly to help the people affected by Hurricane Florence put the pieces of their lives back together. People have come from as at least as far away as California to make swift water rescues.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’ve been reading parts of several books but can’t quite settle in on any of them. Three that I’m reading are A Double Life, by Flynn Berry; Women, Food, and God:  An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, by Geneen Roth; and The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

My Heart is in Eastern North Carolina

Due to Hurricane Florence, I’m a few hours later than usual getting my Monday blog post out. I live 200 inland in North Carolina. I’m happy to report that we came through unscathed although we had nearly 8 inches of rain in 48 hours. My prayers are for relatives, friends, and strangers who live closer to the coast and received upwards of 30 inches of rain. I lived in the eastern part of the state for a few years when I was a young adult, and my heart breaks to see the pictures of the current historic flooding there.

The photo below is a non-copyrighted photograph I downloaded from the internet. It is a typical picture of the current flooding in eastern North Carolina.

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Flooding in eastern North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence, September 2018.

It seemed frivolous this weekend for me to write a blog post about my planned idea of highlighting a line I like from a novel. This afternoon I still feel guilty for being able to sit in the comfort of my home, with electricity and no danger of flooding, to write such a post. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead as planned.

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

I wrote about this novel and another book I read in August in my September 3, 2018 blog post (Two Thought-Provoking Books in August.)

In case you haven’t read this novel, it revolves around Count Rostov, who is under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. Over the decades, he befriends a variety of people in the hotel. Among those is the hotel’s maintenance man. They sat on the roof of the hotel all night drinking coffee, eating rye bread with lilac honey, and sharing memories from their younger years. Although from very different economic backgrounds, they found common ground in their memories of Moscow.

A quote from the novel

“So the summer sun began to rise, the fire began to die, and the bees began to circle overhead, the two men spoke of days from their childhoods when the wagon wheels rattled in the road, and the dragonflies skimmed the grass, and the apple trees blossomed for as far as the eye could see.” ~ From A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

That sentence is a beautiful piece of prose. The author not only puts the reader in the present but also in the past – all seamlessly in just 55 words.

Since my last blog post

It seems like all my sister and I did last week was anticipate Hurricane Florence and make preparations for its arrival.

We stocked up on batteries and bottled water. (When you live out in the country an depend on your own well for water, you have to think of those things.)

We put photo albums and other prized possessions in lidded plastic boxes to try to protect them rain in case a tree crashed through the house.

We checked on the southwest corner of the basement to make sure it was ready for us with quilts, etc. in case of a tornado warning. We made sure all drains in the yard were free of leaves.

We gathered important papers and secured them in Ziploc bags along with photocopies of the backs and fronts of our identification, insurance cards, and credit cards.

We bought ice so we could keep a few perishable foods in a little ice chest in the event we lost electricity. We ate some of the food we had in our freezer for later use.

We made sure we had bread, crackers, and peanut butter on hand to see us through a possible week or so without electricity. (It’s happened before.)

When a natural disaster knocks on your door, you realize what’s important. First on that list was our personal safety and the safety of those people nearer the coast. Most “things” can be replaced, or you might realize they weren’t really important after all.

We’ve begun to put photo albums back in the bookshelves. We’ve started drinking the water we collected in all pitchers and canning jars. We’ve tried to let the people who were concerned about our safety know that we are all right.

Until my next blog post

I will continue to put items back in place and perhaps decide there are things I should part with. I will be able to get back to my usual routine of life. I will eventually take for granted water, food, and electricity. However, my thoughts and prayers will be with my relatives, friends, and fellow North Carolinians who are still today in a state of emergency with disaster all around them.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m having trouble concentrating on a book right now.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

GPS for an Enameled Toaster

Three of my last four blog posts have been sort of “heavy” in content, so we’re going to have a change of pace today. For those of you who prefer shorter and not-so-serious blog posts, this one’s for you.

I don’t have GPS for my vehicle. To give you an idea how old my vehicle is let me just saw the cassette tape deck works great.

After hearing a few stories from friends who’ve had less than stellar experiences with the device, I’m not sure I want a GPS.

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Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

The following quote from Less, by Andrew Sean Greer makes me think the author has had some memorable adventures while using a GPS. This quote comes from the part of the book when the hapless Arthur Less is visiting Japan:

“. . . he takes the wheel of what basically feels like an enameled toaster and follows the clear, perfect signs out of Kyoto, toward the hill country. Less is grateful the signs are clear because the GPS, after giving crisp, stern directions to the highway, becomes drunk on its own power outside the city limits, then gives out completely and places Arthur Less in the Sea of Japan.” ~ from Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

The author paints a couple of vivid pictures with these words. Instead of saying, “a small car” or “a sub-compact car,” he gives a humorous image of a car that “feels like an enameled toaster.”

Then, although we’re not meant to take it literally, we see Less in this car the size of a toaster floating on (or sinking in) the Sea of Japan.

Vivid imagery doesn’t just happen in a book. It takes a good writer to carefully choose his or her words.

Since my last blog post

I’ve gotten back into some genealogy work. That’s been a hobby of mine since my father died when I was 24 years old and I realized I had failed to ask him a lot of questions about his family.

My last blog post prompted more comments than I usually get. I enjoyed discussing cultural appropriation; Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright; and A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles with a good number of you.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Paterson. I’ve never read a James Patterson novel before and thought this might be a good one to start with. My political science background keeps showing up in my reading choices lately.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

Two Thought-Provoking Books in August

August was a month for me to finish several books I had checked out earlier but not had time to finish reading before their library due dates. I finished reading two of them. Not a huge number in the scheme of things, but I really enjoyed both of them and was glad to check off a couple of books that have been on my Want to Read list for a long time.

Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

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Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

I sort of put myself in a jam by telling my blog readers in May that I was reading Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright. Then, I mentioned again in July that I was reading it. Alas, I didn’t finish reading it in July. It’s not a fast read because it delves into such a serious and timely subject. In July, I described the book as being “chilling.” That’s still the best word I can think of to sum up how the book made me feel.

I wish Madeleine Albright had written my history textbooks. Her command of history coupled with a very readable writing style combine to make this an unsettling read.

If your political leanings are to the far right, you probably won’t want to read this book. I hope that won’t deter you, though. Read it with an open mind and your eyes might be opened to see some indicators in today’s America that will give you pause.

Ms. Albright seamlessly gives the history of Fascists and would-be Fascists throughout the world in the 20th century and up to the present day. The facts just flow through her words. That said, though, it was a slow read for me. The book is packed with history. Many of the details she includes were unknown to me. I read and reread chapters. She addresses the economic and political factors that create an incubator for Fascist movements.

I’ll share four quotes from the book here.

“Consider that, of the people celebrating their sixteenth birthday this year, almost nine in ten will do so in a country with a below-average standard of living.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

“In a true democracy, leaders respect the will of the majority but also the rights of the minority – one without the other is not enough.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

 “Good guys don’t always win, especially when they are divided and less determined than their adversaries. The desire for liberty may be ingrained in every human breast, but so is the potential for complacency, confusion, and cowardice.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

“This generosity of spirit – this caring about others and about the proposition that we are all created equal – is the single most effective antidote to the self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

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A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

I started reading A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles last October! It’s a wonderful book, so I’m at a loss to explain why I didn’t finish reading it until last month. I think I indicated in an earlier blog that I just couldn’t “get into it.” That comment brought at least one reply of surprise. It boiled down to, “How can anyone not like this book?”

I agree with that sentiment now. It is a wonderful novel, charmingly-, humorously-, and delightfully-written while giving the flavor of Russia in the years after the Bolshevik Revolution. It is about a Russian Count who is put under house arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow and how he makes the best of his situation. He befriends a young girl who shows him all the nooks and crannies in the hotel. He eventually got a job in the hotel’s restaurant after it came to light that he knew wines and could be of use in the restaurant.

The book follows Count Rostov’s life into the 1950s. When he first moved into the attic of the grand Metropol Hotel right after the Bolshevik Revolution, he determined to make the best of his situation. He could not imagine the life he would have or the people who would come into his life there over the next decades.

My description doesn’t begin to do justice to A Gentleman in Moscow, so I recommend that you read it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Since my last blog post

I’ve received many comments on last Monday’s blog post. Thank you for the conversation! Sadly, I did not get back to work on my historical novel. Too many interests are pulling me in too many directions!

Until my next blog post

I need to increase my time on social media, since I’ve essentially ignored my social media plan for Twitter and Pinterest for several weeks. I also plan to make time to work on genealogy.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m almost through reading The Death of Mrs. Westover, by Ruth Ware, and I’m reading The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments

I invite your comments below. Have you read Fascism: A Warning or A Gentleman in Moscow? Share your thoughts. Have you read any good books lately?

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

Cultural Appropriation in Writing

Cultural Appropriation was a term I first encountered one day last week while participating in a writers’ group page on Facebook. Although I was not familiar with the term, I’ve had first-hand experience in wrestling with it in my own writing.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A definition

The Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as

“the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

A raft of articles and video clips

As I started looking for a definition of cultural appropriation, I found a wealth of online references, which proves that I just haven’t been paying attention.

What I discovered is that non-Hispanic individuals were criticized for operating a burrito food cart in Portland, Stella McCartney was criticized for including Ankara prints in her spring fashion collection, a white man was criticized by Koreans for making a Kimchi-making tutorial, in March of this year Bruno Mars was accused of cultural appropriation in his music, and just last week Jamie Oliver was accused of cultural appropriation for calling a dish “punchy jerk rice.”

Author Morgan Jones’ opinion

Author and administrator of the “Writers on the Path to a Page-Turner” Facebook group, Barbara Kyle, started a conversation about cultural appropriation on Facebook on August 20. She shared a link to an October 1, 2016 article in The Guardian ( https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/01/novelists-cultural-appropriation-literature-lionel-shriver ) and in a follow-up comment she quoted author Morgan Jones. Here’s Ms. Kyle’s comment:

“The move to self-censorship for fear of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a sad state of affairs. Author Morgan Jones eloquently champions the opposite position:  ‘Fiction remains the best means we have of finding connection where there seems to be none; and the novel, of all forms, encourages a search that’s deep and sustained. By reading (or writing) one, you’ve travelled somewhere else. You’ve moved, it only slightly, towards others. In a world that finds and increasingly exploits division and difference, this is an invaluable, precious exercise.”

After you’ve finished reading my blog post today, I invite you to read The Guardian article referenced above. That article includes the following novelists’ views on cultural appropriation: Hari Kunzru, Kamila Shamsie, Aminatta Forna, Chris Cleave, AL Kennedy, Stella Duffy, Linda Grant, Naomi Alderman, Philip Hensher, Maggie Gee, and Nikesh Shukla. These are writers of various ethnic backgrounds, which makes their comments especially poignant.

The article’s introduction reads as follows:

“Jonathan Franzen claimed he won’t write about race because of limited ‘firsthand experience’, while Lionel Shriver hopes objection to ‘cultural appropriation is a passing fad’. So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?”

Another writer in the Facebook group

Another person in the writers’ group on Facebook shared that he had given up on publishing his historical novel based on the life of Etienne Annaotaha, a Canadian First Nations hero after seeing how much flack Joseph Boyden caught for his writing, even though Mr. Boyden is 26% Native American. Imagine how a 100% European ancestry writer would be treated for writing about Native Americans if someone like Mr. Boyden is not accepted?

A quote from Walter Mosley

The following quote from Walter Mosley appeared in an email I received from Writer’s Digest last week:

“Write without restraint. It’s important to not censor yourself. People will censor the sh*t out of you… and there’s more truth in fiction than there is in nonfiction. You have to be committed to that truth.” – Walter Mosley

My challenge

In the historical novel I’m writing, set in the Carolinas in the 1760s, I’m attempting to write from several points-of-view, including that of a male slave and that of a free woman of color. My challenge is to be true to history while writing about fictional characters. I might not get it right.

I found a truck-load of encouragement from the Morgan Jones quote highlighted above! I have typed it and taped it to the bottom of my computer screen so I can read it every time I sit down to work on my novel.

So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?

I say, “No, as long as the writer does her best research and uses her best writing skills to convey a story in a work of fiction.”

Cultural appropriation smacks of censorship, and I’m not for censorship in fiction. I don’t want someone else deciding what I should or should not read. Likewise, I don’t want someone else deciding what I should or should not write.

As a Southerner, I have not appreciated the disingenuous portrayal of Southerners in movies and television programs all my life; however, I uphold the creators’ right to produce that work under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Censorship is a slippery slope I don’t want to see us go down.

All that said, I will be mindful of my use of dialect in my novel. There are better ways to get across time, place, and social standing than hitting the reader over the head with dialect.

Since my last blog post

I’ve taken some courage from researching cultural appropriation. Although I was ignorant of the term itself, I’ve given a lot of thought to the subject for the years I’ve been working on my own novel.

I was also inspired by a dream I had last Monday night. As far as I can remember, it was the first time I dreamed that I was writing. I was writing my novel, and the words were flowing faster than I could write them down. The odd part was that I was writing in cursive, although in real life I do all my writing on the computer.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m trying to finish reading A Gentleman in Moscow and I’ve started reading The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time. I plan to get back to work on my historical novel (working title, The Spanish Coin) with a renewed since of dedication since recharging my batteries in the Blue Ridge Mountains a couple of weeks ago and since reading about cultural appropriation last week.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments

I invite your comments below. What are your feelings about cultural appropriation? Have you read any good books lately? What have you been up to? What’s on your mind?

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

Recharging My Batteries in Blue Ridge Mountains

Last week my sister and I spent several days in the Blue Ridge Mountains “recharging our batteries.” We had good weather. It was warm, but not hot like it is in the piedmont. It was great to get back to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!

I tend to over-plan a trip. I enjoy planning all the details of a vacation so we won’t miss anything. It tends to drive other people crazy that I do this. They encourage me to lighten up.

Despite my propensity for making plans, I think I did a little better than usual this time. We had three full days to fill. I built in one day with no plans whatsoever. Alarm clocks were not set, and no plans were made for the day. We each enjoyed the day just resting, reading, and watching some TV. I’ve never planned an entire day of rest before on a trip. It felt good. There is hope for me yet!

Waterfalls & Wildflowers!

We both love waterfalls, so our agendas the other days included stops at Looking Glass Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls, and Upper Cullasaja Falls.  Looking Glass is my favorite of the waterfalls I’ve seen in North Carolina.

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Looking Glass Falls in North Carolina

Dry Falls is my sister’s favorite. It is called dry falls because you can walk behind it without getting wet. Since there was more water coming over the fall than other times we’ve visited Dry Falls, it was louder than usual and we did get a bit damp from the mist. It was quite refreshing!

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Dry Falls in North Carolina
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Sign as you start to walk behind Dry Falls.
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Looking out from behind Dry Falls.

Seeing Bridal Veil Falls brought back fond memories of when we were children. At that time, US Highway 64 actually went under the waterfall. It was exciting as a child to ride under a waterfall in the family car. A few hundred feet of the old highway is closed to vehicular traffic now, but this offers an equally enjoyable experience as the ones of my childhood. You can walk a few feet back under the overhanging rock, much like at Dry Falls.

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That’s me, standing behind Bridal Veil Falls.

 

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Looking out from behind Bridal Veil Falls, the water looked like diamonds in the sun.

Upper Cullasaja Falls is easily missed, especially if you’re the driver and can’t take your eyes off the narrow, curvy road in Cullasaja Gorge.

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Upper Cullasaja Falls (also known as Quarry Falls) in Cullasaja Gorge in North Carolina.

Joe Pye Weed, Coreopsis, and a multitude of other wildflowers were blooming in abundance along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The picture we took of the flowers and the waterfalls don’t do them justice, but I’ll include several here. There were a host of butterflies enjoying the flowers nearly everywhere we stopped.

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Joe Pye Weed along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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Coreopsis blooming along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Judaculla Rock

We’d seen the four waterfalls before, but we’d never had the opportunity to see Judaculla Rock, near Cullowhee, North Carolina. There is a wide range of speculation about the history of this petroglyph-covered rock. I’ve seen figures suggesting that the petroglyphs may date back 3,000 to 5,000 years.

The pictures don’t do it justice. Too bad they’re stuck in my cell phone. You’ll probably never see them. I’m as disappointed as you are that I can’t get the photos downloaded.

I love driving the twisty-curvy mountain roads, so getting to do that last week was a wonderful change of pace for me.

Since my last blog post

I hope you have also had some relaxation time and perhaps a change of scenery for a few days.

Thank you for reading my blog post from last Monday, and a special thanks to those of you who left comments. It was a difficult post to write. I probably “stepped on some toes,” but the readers who were offended did not let me know. I didn’t know how the post would be received. It was a bit of a risk for me. By nature I’m not a risk-taker, although I did walk behind Dry Falls just as I have numerous times before.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Janet

“Defeated cultures behave strangely.”

(I set out to blog about a paragraph I liked from The Quantum Spy, a novel by David Ignatius. My thoughts, as usual, took me in some unexpected directions.)

As I write this on Sunday evening, the one-year anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia is being remembered across the United States and marked by demonstrations in Washington, DC. Heather Heyer was killed while peacefully protesting against the white supremacists who were marching and spewing vile racist chants at the base of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville last year.

Our nation’s president said, “Very fine people on both sides.”

No, Mr. Trump. Nazis and white supremacists are not fine people. Fine people are not Nazis and white supremacists.

A quote from a novel

I have come to understand that fiction can be used to shine a light on reality. Ideally, a history book presents documented facts. A work of fiction allows an author to present differing opinions on an issue in a creative way. In a novel, a character can voice an opinion or a truth in a way we usually don’t find in a history book.

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The Quantum Spy, by David Ignatius

As I thought about the protests in Washington, DC this weekend, I was reminded of a paragraph from The Quantum Spy, by David Ignatius, quoted below. It is written in the point-of-view of a character named Chang. A statue of a Confederate soldier moves Chang to a clearer understanding of the American Civil War.

“There was a curious statue in the middle of the intersection…. It portrayed a Confederate soldier, hat in hand, head down, shoulders slouched as he looked south. It was called ‘Appomattox.’ An inscription under the figure said:  ‘They died in the consciousness of duty faithfully performed.’ It was a monument to defeat. Chang had never admired the Confederacy, but in that moment, he empathized. Defeated cultures behave strangely.” ~ from page 265 of The Quantum Spy, by David Ignatius.

Letting go of the US Civil War

It seems like Americans will forever fight the Civil War, which officially ended in 1865 with the surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to United States Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

We as a people need to learn from the Civil War and not repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to stop using the Civil War as an excuse to hate. The Confederate flags and swastika-emblazoned arm bands belong in museums, not on our streets.

Putting away the symbols of division and hate will not solve the problem, though. Taking down Civil War monuments won’t solve the problem. Only honest conversation and empathy can solve this problem.

I am a Southerner. I was born in The South and have lived here all my life. All four of my great-grandfathers and one of my great-great-grandfathers fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Each of them must have felt like they were doing the right thing.

I cannot get into their heads to know or understand their thinking. They were products of their times, and they were prisoners of their times. They did not have the advantage of hindsight.

Defeat is a difficult thing to take and pride is a difficult thing to swallow, but I have to wonder if most of those Confederate veterans even came to believe that it was a good thing the Union won the Civil War.

Distrust and Fear: A national problem

There is a problem within America. A facet of it is racism, but it goes beyond racism. There is distrust between many people of different races, religions, and political views.

For reasons I don’t understand, a lot of people in the United States distrust and fear people who don’t look like them, worship like them, dress like them, vote like them, or talk like them.

Although the United States has been called a “melting pot,” that process has been fraught with strife and misunderstandings. As each new group of immigrants entered the country, they faced discrimination and ridicule; however, eventually, they found acceptance. The following words inscribed at the Statue of Liberty meant something.

“Give me your tired, your poor,                                                                                                   Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;                                                                     The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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The Statue of Liberty, New York, New York

(Photo by Juan Mayobre on Unsplash)

For reasons I don’t understand, some people can’t get past the Civil War. Some people no longer accept the words of this poem as the embodiment of the American philosophy.

Let the conversation in America begin so the hatred, distrust, and fear can end.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading several books, none of which is compelling me to read to the point that I’m skipping meals or losing sleep. Rule #1:  You don’t have to finish reading a book. I’m still trying to embrace that rule.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Have you had an honest conversation about race, hatred, or distrust with someone of a racial background, religious beliefs, or political stance different from yours?

Let the conversation in America begin so the hatred, distrust, and fear can end.

Janet