I’ve always mangled directions, never had the sense of it, can never find north, or which way I’ve been in relation to where I’m going. You know, the whole mall experience could get me all tangled up in no time, basically going back and forth the same way, walking into a store, and coming out and not knowing where I’d been, in regards to which way I should go.
So, let’s just say that me and directions are on sketchy terms. Yet, one particular direction seems to have some special significance, for whatever reason, which is South.
I was born in the south, as in the Southern United States, I grew up in southern Ontario, and I live in an area of town known as Old South, you know, with big old Oaks and Maples lining the streets, where the plumbing sucks and the neighbours know you by name, and where any given warm summer evening one may hear the laughter of voices on front porches, couples strolling by hand in hand, walkers with dogs on leashes. Where eagle eyes peek out from windows at suspicious strangers poking around the neighbours, and tell the folks at the main street shops, who tell the next customer, and so on, and before you can read it on Facebook the whole village knows some burglar is possibly about and to watch out.
By birth, my southern relations go way back into the mists of another age, of beginnings and long voyages from the Isles of Britain. Arrival upon American shores before there even was the United States of, as bonded servants and all the rest who sought new beginnings, land, something, maybe, one day they could call there own and something completely off the table back where they came from.
Ancestors who grew tobacco and cotton, and, yes, owned slaves. Racism, rebels, and debutants danced the quadrille on hot summer nights, and lovers tied a ribbon around an old oak tree, and friends sat together drinking sweet tea. Where stories of fireballs of backcountry devils made real, all of which to the ears of a daughter raised in the North seemed weird.
You know, second sons, religious zealots, and seekers of their fortune all spinning that wheel to see what a long dark voyage across the North Atlantic will offer, leaving behind forever the storied Isles of their birth.
Divisions left or right, south or north, are more defined today than ever, and that is dangerous. To be one or the other, to think all the same things, on one side or the other, is not how it used to be.
In the past politics had a balance, a compromise, a certain level of respect and dignity maintained for the greater good, and the very idea of that sometimes nowadays seems almost quaint, ancient, and terribly missed.
Yet, this week two souls who passed from this earth who lived in two completely different worlds, their achievements honoured, arms embracing, stretching across lines drawn by politics, from a daughters tears, friends and peers, and songs were sung, memorializing a soul singer and a soldier, tributes by those who stand on either side of that left/right divide, and that chorus of harpies following in the wake of chaos from that disruptor in chief were exposed as the instigators of hate and division that they truly are.
I’m going to put on my robe
Tell the story how I made it over
I Shall Wear A Crown
South or north, left or the right, were thrown aside and the bright shining dichotomy that can unite, those ties that bind the WE, were strengthened by death. As past presidents and preachers, party lines crossed, and a spirit, a breeze, it blew through the soul of America, and hope was refreshed by their passing. Amen.
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