Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Thought About Why So Few People Stand Up for Ideals

My ancestors were Anabaptists from Scotland. Having been treated as slaves by their brutish British overlords, they had no love for anyone who thought he had the right to own other people. So it was natural for them to become abolitionists, and militant about the christian duty to fight against Slavery and all such tyrannies. They volunteered for the Civil War eagerly, seeing in it their opportunity to back their ideals with actions.

More than a dozen men of my family went to that war - two survived, and both of them maimed by their injuries. Their valor left the family with no one to manage their land, and so they lost it, no one to bring about new generations, and so many of the lines simply died out. The men who survived the war, indeed made money from it, were the same men who became notorious "carpetbaggers" from the North and who formed groups like the Klan in the South. To stand for universal human ideals was to risk losing all, and many men did just that.

And many people have learned that cruel lesson, over and over again, that to stand up in such a world is to risk being hammered down. It's easy to speak your opinion when you are risking nothing, and when you have many friends around to back you up. It's a rare man, even today, who will dare to be unpopular, let alone truly risk himself to help someone who is cast as an undesirable.

1 comment:

Ed Drew said...

Very good post. It's fortunate that we live in a country where we usually can speak our minds without having to worry about retribution. The only thing I would point out is really just a technicality but an important one. The civil war was not fought over slavery, but over states rights. Yes, it was triggered by the slavery issue, but slavery was just as prevalent in practice (but not in the numbers)in some Northern states as southern. but that wasn't the point of your post, standing up for what you believe in was, and I agree 100% on that. A lot of people won't stand up for what they believe in simply because 'it's not worth arguing over'. But that's ok, I guess. I've been reading you regularly since before the election. I like your writing.