For those of you who know me, you know that I can be a ‘news junkie’ and I will often have the news running in the background. Sometimes it is just droning noise, but sometimes, I am truly interested in what is going on. Recently, I have been deeply affected by the shenanigans going on here on the east coast over the taking down of various statues related to the Civil War. I was never a GREAT student of history in high school or college (I learned the facts but didn’t really interact with them or learn the whole story), but as a homeschool mom, I have REALLY studied American History and have come to love the story of our country, with all her glory, bumps, bruises and outright devastating tales.
What has most concerned me is a move to ‘erase’ some of these bumps and bruises. Why? Because those bumps and bruises offend some. However, if those who are offended would take a moment to get to know ALL the folks that were around during that time, I think they would feel heartened and even grateful for men on BOTH sides of the Civil War, who actually stood up for their ancestors, cared for them and even educated them.
One of the problems, as I see it, is the teaching of History in this country. Public Schools and colleges teach portions of history, out of chronological order and even text books delete information for the sake of space (or for political correctness). However, in a classical education setting, we are going to teach everything…the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, one of my favorite units is John Brown. Most folks know a few things…here are some recent comments I have heard…’wasn’t he the one who was hung in Harper’s Ferry?, ‘he was the one who lived in Harper’s Ferry,’ ‘was he the one who was a western explorer?, and even ‘John Brown…didn’t he mine for gold?’ It disheartens me that folks don’t know his story. Just to clarify, John Brown (who had a difficult childhood and a rather strict upbringing) was a tormented man who was a ‘bit over the top’ when it came to cult-likd type religion. He hated slavery (good for him!) and tried to set up a small army that would head to Harper’s Ferry (did you know that the Union had a weapon’s depot there?) and begin a rebellion. However, things didn’t go as planned and he was eventually caught and put on trial, later hanged in Charles Town. John Brown’s raid is even considered to be one of the many reasons that the Civil War came to be. But all people really know about him is that there is a John Brown song.
In our nation, we have a rather ‘checkered’ past. The original folks that came to America were criminals, thieves and the dregs of society that were no longer wanted or needed in Britain. The Americas were a dumping ground. And later, it was a ‘refuge’ as things were going badly in other places. We became a melting pot. But some of those founding fathers recognized the need to organize this small nation. We grew, we changed, but there will always be ‘checkered.’ Slavery was one of those ‘dark’ periods in history. But folks, we are STILL CHECKERED in our country. We don’t always treat the environment as we should. There is still discrimination, there is a problem with how to handle immigration. The poor are still among is (hmmm….Jesus first predicted that dilemma). Unfortunately, while many have written about a perfect society, it will never come to be. Call me a pessimist, but I have read in the scriptures that this earth and all that is on the earth are under a curse. We have a sin problem…it all goes back to that. And, as long as there is the sin problem, there will be all this ‘checkered’ stuff going on.
So, that takes me to my next point. I’m sure all of us have a past. It is a fact. Some of our ‘pasts’ are sad, tragic, and yes, ‘checkered.’ We may try to hide it, keep the secrets of our youth, but do you REALLY want to get rid of it? It is part of your story. The story of how you rebelled, turned away from God, went out on your own and did what you wanted to do. But, the beautiful thing is that you had a Savior, a ‘knight in shining armor’ (so to speak) that rescued you. The WHOLE story is needed. Why should a rescuer come along if there is no one to be rescued?
Back to our national dilemma. I believe that the statues that stand on hallowed ground serve to remind us of the WHOLE story…all the bumps, bruises and devastation. We need that reminder. We need to see the ‘checkered,’ ugly past in order to understand where we are now. We have always gotten ourselves into trouble when we elevate people other than Jesus Christ. Robert E. Lee had it right when he disagreed, in the first place, with the erecting of statues. So perhaps all the statues of people (put on pedestals, literally!) should come down as we look beyond them to the Savior on the most despicable of statues, the cross. That is the only statue that should be in our ‘mind’s eye.’ All others are but rubbish.
And one final thought...as we begin a new community at Frederick East, DO NOT ever elevate the leaders, board members or teachers. We all have our issues, our pasts and our hang-ups. Help us by praying for us and interacting with us with good communication. We are all imperfect people in this imperfect world trying to walk the narrow Christian path. Christ is the one to elevate...He is our sure foundation.