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Let’s lock them up

(I removed this essay from my blog this morning because I thought it did not do justice to the topic. I am putting it back temporarily so that I may solicit your comments. Should it be removed permanently, or should it be kept as part of this blog?)

What is it with these guys who can’t keep their peckers in their pants? I mean…come-on…so to speak. First it was horny Harvey, then Kopy Kat Kevin had to come out and represent the gay community, and now Louis C.K., has made the news. What’s going on? Is this retaliation for all of those Hollywood “wardrobe malfunctions” that were so popular a couple of years ago?

I think that what is happening here is that women are sick and tired of assholes who think they’re something special or have something special that they wish to share. News flash…a man’s penis is no more attractive to most women – trust me, I conducted a survey on this – than a woman’s vagina is to most men. There’s a reason they call them “private parts.” They aren’t for public observation except, perhaps, in the privacy of a married couple’s bedroom…yes, I was going to say they aren’t for public consumption, but I know the comments I’d get on that one.

Seriously, when the hormones begin to rage around 13 or 14, boys go hog wild. They masturbate like crazy, as though they’ve discovered a whole new world. Then, they want to find out about girls, so they go through this whole, “What’s a boob feel like?” and, “Oh, boy, what do I do now?” and shit like that. Then, they finally get laid…don’t say that they finally make love because that’s not what it is. Who knows how many times this may happen, but it happens. Usually, at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, ‘She” comes along. “She” is special. “She” is different. Yeah, okay, maybe they do climb into the sack together, but it’s really different. It’s tender. It’s ‘wow!’ Or perhaps, “She” is so special that they don’t have sex…unusual, and almost unimaginable in this day and age, but go with me here. They marry, tie the knot, stomp the glass, exchange the vows, whatever expression you wish to use. Now they can enjoy all the love-making they want…and that’s what it is, love-making. It’s the ultimate expression of joining two bodies as one for the express purpose of bringing into this world parts of both of them. You don’t have to look at it that way, but isn’t that the basic purpose for making love. Reduce it to anything you wish, but when it comes right down to it, at least in our case, we wanted kids. We lost three and then had two within 13 months…damn close to being called Irish Twins. The third one came along four years later and proved to be just as much a bundle of joy as the first two.

From a certain degree of experience, I can tell you that after a while, you’re too damned busy trying to climb whatever success ladder you’re on to make love every night. A faculty friend in his sixties told me once, “My wife and I have a standing, Sunday morning appointment to make love.” He made it sound almost holy. I wanted to ask if it was before or after church, but I figured if he wanted me to know, he would have told me. It’s true, however, that after a while, sex takes a back seat to raising a family, working a job, taking care of the house, or whatever else happens to be in the way…it is not the priority that it once was.

Anyway, back to these idiots who believe their manhood is something to be admired by everyone of the opposite sex. A clue, guys, “They don’t give a sweet damn about yer wanker.” And if they know you’re married, they have absolutely no interest whatsoever in peering at yer used wanker. A true anecdote: A friend of ours who taught home economics at Cohasset High School, was on a train to New York. A man came along and sat in the seat beside her. He exposed himself and nudged her with his elbow. She looked up at him and down at his manhood, broke into a smile and said, “Really, I’ve seen much better than that.” She turned away and went back to her book. The perv shrunk away to another train on the car. Pat, bless her soul, was single at the time, but took great delight in telling the story.

So, to all you male “celebrities” out there who believe that the female population of the world is interested in what you behold to be a magnificent sword between your legs, I offer this advice… be very careful with whom you share that thing you love so much. One of those women may carry a straight razor and “Bobbitize” you without a second thought. Oh, and you know what, you deserve it, you bloody pervert.

On a more serious note, what these men are doing is criminal. I hope and pray that more women will come forward, will speak out, will see that those who think they can get away with this type of behavior are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Sexual perversion is not humorous at all. Dirty jokes aren’t appreciated, ogling isn’t appreciated, snide comments aren’t appreciated. Respect is appreciated. Use it with everyone.

Sometime back in the mid-sixties – nineteen hundred and sixties, that is – I was privileged to work for a man with an interesting management philosophy. “Always praise in public and condemn in private,” he told me. “Never embarrass someone by publicly condemning them.” It was good advice then. It remains good advice to this very day. I note this because in reading the management principles of Donald Trump, I came across this one, “Supporting and Inspire the team – You are only as good as the people on your team. Remember that.” His ghost writer for the book, The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, notes, “When he (Trump) feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others.” I will grant that Schwartz and Trump have issues with each other, but one must remember that the former spent over a year with the latter to write a book that spent a great deal of time on The New York Times best seller list and that sold in the vicinity of one million copies. Based on this, I’d have to say that the two men got to know one another reasonably well.

There is one thing that bothers me greatly. Most people, even most great leaders, will admit, publicly or privately, that they are flawed. We, you, me, everyone is flawed in some small or perhaps large, way. We have our quirks, and if we don’t acknowledge them, they will eventually come back to bite us in the butt. By acknowledging our weaknesses, we can succeed by working with others who have strengths in our weaker areas. As a very minor example, let me say that I’m a morning person – I think I’ve said this before. I hired two people who found it reasonably difficult to get going before nine or ten o’clock in the morning. However, while I like to retire early and am not particularly effective after ten in the evening, these two were evening dynamo’s. They could go like the hammers of hell until the wee hours of the morning. It made for a great team. The same man cited above, ie “praise in public,” also had a problem with evenings. However, he was president of the university and as such, he was able close his door at two o’clock in the afternoon of an evening event, and take a power nap in his recliner for half an hour. How the hell that rejuvenated him to be as strong as he was in the evening, I will never know…one of those skills I’ll never have, that’s for certain.

During my undistinguished career in higher education, I worked with or for seven college presidents. With some it was a direct relationship, while with others, it was always through a series of supervisors. Using them as my examples of leaders, I learned several things. First, no leader can go it alone and succeed in the long run. Being a dictator may work for a while, but without the support of a strong team, the leader will eventually fail and fall. Next, hire people who are smarter than you, particularly in the jobs you expect them to do. Third, acknowledge publicly, loudly, and often, those who are doing the job and doing it well. Fourth, be open and candid in discussing both successes and areas where improvement is needed. This last is not meant as a castigation of others but of public self-criticism, eg, “I could have done a better job in bringing about…” It shows a humanness that altogether too many people are unwilling to show. It is not an admission of weakness, rather, it demonstrates a strength of personality and character. I’m quite certain that others may disagree with my assessment, and they are perfectly free to do so. My experience with leaders has been limited to seven in the field of higher education. Perhaps leaders in other fields may demonstrate different qualities that make them successful, but it will take someone with experience in those fields to hold forth on their behalf.

Whatever the case, I hold to the old expression that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. With the exception of one of the men mentioned above, all genuinely cared about others. Yes, I had been chewed out by all seven for one thing or another, but only one lowered himself to the point of making it very, very personal. Suffice it to say, he was the reason for my early retirement…or to put it in the vernacular of my youth, “I didn’t need that shit from anyone!”

I guess that all of this is leading up to a question: “How can anyone in their right mind go to work for Donald Trump?” He has absolutely no loyalty to anyone he hires. He is never wrong in anything he says or does in any area. He knows more about foreign policy than the foreign policy advisors. He knows more about budgets than anyone in the Congressional Budget Office. He knows more about warfare than any general, despite the fact that he’s never been in the military. Toss into this mix the fact that he lies openly and denies these lies even when they have been recorded. Yes, it takes treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors to impeach someone in Trump’s position. How much more of this type of behavior must we suffer under this man before Congress says, “Enough.”

Here is an ethics problem for you. Recently, I order ten boxes of protein bars from a firm in Alabama. As is usually the case these days, I was given a confirmation by e-mail, a tracking number, and was later told that the package had shipped. I should note that one does not order this particular package during the summer months because it is heat sensitive. I then received an e-mail from UPS, stating that the package would be delivered “before the end of the day” on a Saturday. Diligently, I went to the front door on Saturday evening at 8:00 pm…no package. I went to all of the doors exiting to the outside – there are three others – but to no avail. Sunday arrived, and I checked again…no package. Recognizing that the offices of the company were probably closed, I sent an e-mail, stating the problem. As luck would have it, someone was working on Sunday and responded to my e-mail, saying that she would notify UPS on Monday. The next day, UPS offered the following solution: “The driver will try to leave your package out of sight for safety, so start by doing a little investigative work. Check all exterior doors where the package could be placed, such as behind a porch column. Since we don’t have columns, I checked bushes, plants, and trees – hey, gotta be thorough – but no package. Since UPS wants to deal with the company, not the customer, I called the company once more. No problem, I was told. They had already spoken with UPS who agreed to make good with the company. I was told that another package was being shipped…with a box of free bars included.

Monday passed, and I honestly thought that someone had come along, seen the package, and decided it would be better off in their care rather than mine. This wouldn’t have been the first time that this has occurred in our community. In fact, the police had put out a warning to be aware this was becoming a problem. Juli and I had arrived home one day to see a woman walking toward our front door. When confronted, she ran to a pickup truck and she and the driver took off. Sure enough, there was a package from Amazon waiting on the front stoop, ergo, we were aware that such theft was taking place in our neighborhood. That aside, I arose Tuesday morning to go to the gym. Before leaving, I checked my e-mail. A neighbor, just across the road and one house down, had sent me a note saying that she had received a package meant for me and had left it by the mailbox by the garage door. Yep, you guessed it, this was my package of protein bars.

Here is the ethics problem: Do I keep the package and wait for the other to arrive, thus loading the house with protein bars…plus a box of freebies? Do I ship the first box back to the company, calling and telling them that the first box was misdelivered? Do I call the company, explain the mistake, and ask if they wish me to ship the box back? In my own mind, I already have the answer, but I’d like to hear from you? What would you do in this situation?

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…”A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Yes, it is an old parable, probably told a hundred ways and attributed to a hundred tribes or maybe to a hundred something else. I neither know nor do I care. What I do care about is when things such as the murders in Texas, Los Vegas, New York, or anywhere else are committed, we give the murderer an excuse by saying that he is a sick or deranged individual. These people are not deranged nor sick. They are evil, pure evil, and they have chosen to feed that particular wolf. Don’t call them “troubled,” or say that they have “mental issues.” Face up to the fact that in this world, there are people who are just plain evil, and they take their enjoyment in their evilness. Many contain their evil for long periods of time, some for their entire lives. They reach the point where we just consider them to be old and unpleasant and we leave them alone…even if they are members of our own family. ‘Uncle Joe’ isn’t just grouchy, he’s an evil son-of-a-bitch who hasn’t had the balls to act out. Others, like Adam Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho, Stephen Paddock, Devin Kelley, and Dylan Roof finally stop feeding the good wolf, and go act out their evility.

You and I probably don’t know people we would call evil. On the other hand, we may very well know a number of them. We think of them as nice, quiet, unassuming, or perhaps we might go so far as to say, “He…or in some cases…she seems to have a problem,” or “is a little strange.” Most of us don’t have the training or even the sense to spot these people, and that’s too bad. It’s no reflection on you or me. I’ve known a couple of people whom I thought we’re great, but they turned out to be murderers. Just goes to show you how my evility radar works.

Were I to stop right here and say that “evil” is all we need to know to explain what Lanza, Cho, Paddock, et al, have done, I would be doing a disservice to you, the reader. There are any number of explanations for evil. Psychologists might explain it as an Antisocial Personality Disorder, which can be viewed as a mental disorder. Scientist, Paul Zak appears to view evil as the lack of oxytocin, a molecule in the brain, that when released, “makes us feel empathy for others and causes us to behave morally.” Zak calls this the ”moral molecule.” Those who do not possess, or release oxytocin have no such molecule and, consequently, engage in amoral or immoral behavior. Sociologists appear to look at evil as deviance from the norm, the norm being not evil. Whatever you read, wherever you study, it appears that everyone has their own definition of evil, and who is and who isn’t. It becomes very confusing.

When you come right down to it, what we have inside of us may not be two wolves. We may call it God and Satan. We may call it ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ but believe me, we all have these two whatever’s within each of us. If not, how could soldiers be taught to kill? It is, perhaps, one of the conditions that creates post-traumatic stress disorder in so many veterans who fought in combat areas. It could certainly explain why many returning military people are reluctant to speak of their overseas combat service. Were the German soldiers in “the camps” evil for killing and burning people? Probably not. They were merely following orders from above. The question is, “Where did taking orders begin with reluctance and where did the evil of giving those orders begin?” We will probably never know, but I wonder if any of those German soldiers ever said to himself, “Hey, this is just plain wrong. I’m outta here,” and desert from a concentration camp?

For the moment, let’s walk away from good and evil, and let us talk about calm and temper. For most of us, we get irritated or “blow our stack” but we are able to control the degree of our outburst. We may flip off the driver who cuts into our lane without signaling, but we don’t ram him or, as in the case of my family member, go home, get a gun, find the person, and then kill him…yes, that is the truth. So, for most of us, we allow our bad or evil side to exist in us, but our good side is the one that is predominant. Unfortunately, there appears to be something on the increase that has the tag of “intermittent explosive disorder,” where adults throw temper tantrums that can result in physical violence such as throwing things or pushing others. One psychologist notes that today this disorder may exist in as many as one in 20 people.

Are there other evil people out there? Sure. Will they display their evil for all to see? Sure. Can we try to identify and stop them? Sure. Will we be successful? Nope. Is this purely a mental health issue as claimed by the politicians? Nope. It’s a combination of many things, but as long as some of the evil people in this world can get their hands on guns, trucks, and bomb-making materials, you can bet your boots we will see more massacres. That’s America today, in the 21st Century…pretty hard to believe, isn’t it?

Let us get something straight right from the start…Harvey Weinstein is no different from any sexual predator who finds himself in a position of power. Whether it’s “An A for a lay on a college campus” or “So you want to get ahead in this company. I can help if…” or any one of a dozen or so different scenarios, the sexual predator is not some asshole in an alley, waiting for an unsuspecting young girl to walk by so he can hit her over the head and have his way with her.

Sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes. They are no joke. I’m happy that Harvey Weinstein’s sexual appetites finally got him tripped up. It’s opened the flood gates on a subject that we’ve been too afraid to talk about for too many eons. That’s right, eons. We all thought it was funny when we saw the cartoons of the caveman hitting a woman over the head and dragging her back to his cave to be “his woman.” We perpetuated this stereotype of the strong man protecting “his” woman. The man was the hunter/gatherer, and the woman’s place was to have babies, cook, clean, and obey. Women had to fight damn near like a man in order to achieve greater rights. The horror stories of what women had to tolerate just to get the vote are so macabre, vicious, and violent that I’m quite certain there are some people out there who still don’t believe them.

Under the Rules of Chastisement, back around 753 BC, husbands were allowed to beat their wives as long as the switch used was no larger than the girth of the man’s right thumb, hence the Rule of Thumb. Even the church said it was okay for husbands to subjugate their spouse through the use of physical force, but then, who ran the churches? You got it, men who wanted little or nothing to do with women…well, that’s not quite true. Priests were known for their little peccadillos, but they kept those pretty quiet. Here again, it was a case of abuse of power. And therein lies the problem…men were allowed to have too much power over women. There are still men out there who would say to that last statement, “Damn right and that’s how it should be!” Sorry guys, but those days are gone…or at the very least, more rapidly drifting away.

Call me stupid (which many have), but in doing a bit of research, I’m surprised that women have taken the bullshit of men for as long as they have. You want to talk about “Lives Matter?” it’s amazing to me that there hasn’t been a civil uprising long before this. Let’s go into a bit of history here: In the 1400s, “A medieval Christian scholar, Friar Cherbubino of Siena, writes Rules of Marriage, in support of wife beating.” “The Amerian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is formed in 1866. It predates the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, established in 1875. Both predate any organization aimed at preventing cruelty to women.” Move ahead a year when, “A man in North Carolina is acquitted of giving his wife three licks with a switch about the size of one of his fingers, but smaller than his thumb. The reviewing appellate court later upheld the acquittal on the grounds that the court should ‘not interfere with family government in trifling cases.’”

I had already completed graduate school and was married when, in 1962, “In New York, domestic violence cases were transferred from Criminal Court to Family Court where only civil procedures apply. The husband never faces the harsher penalties he would suffer if found guilty in Criminal Court for assaulting a stranger.” Four years later, “Beating, as cruel and inhumane treatment, becomes grounds for divorce in New York, but the plaintiff must establish that a “sufficient” number of beatings have taken place.” Despite the inaction of the courts, of law enforcement, of Congress, of damn near anyone, it wasn’t until 1978 that, “The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is born as the result of extensive organizing efforts by feminists nationwide.“ By 1993, “The United Nations recognized domestic violence as an international human rights issue and issues a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A similar resolution was then issued by the Organization of American States.”

Today, I would like to say that things have changed. I’m sorry to say that, for many women, in many courts, in many police departments, in many cases, this is not the truth. Yes, we have come a long way. Yes, women are speaking out. Yes, the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world are being exposed more and more, and punishments are being meted out more as they should be. However, there is still a great deal to be done. Power in position does not mean freedom to do as one wishes. With power comes responsibility to act in a reasonable and humane fashion. Human rights have changed…at least in most developed countries, and yet, today, police departments will tell you that the bulk of the calls they receive over the course of a year are domestic violence calls. And they are dangerous. Today, when one of those calls is answered, someone is going to jail…and that, too, is as it should be.

I really don’t care if it’s in Hollywood or on the factory floor, in the offices of a highly thought of law firm, or in the kitchen of the diner down the street, respect for everyone is the right of everyone. I really hope to live long enough to see a woman in the White House, not because she is a woman, but because she is the most qualified candidate to run this country.

Okay, so here’s the problem. You’re a pretty bright person. You left your hometown, went off to college, studied criminal justice, even took a five-and-a-half-year program that earned you a master’s degree in the subject. You went to work for a small city that had a decent sized police force, learned a lot from the people there, and now you’ve returned to your community of 30,000 to take over as the chief of police. Your dad had the job a number of years ago, and all the old-timers remember what a “great guy” he was and how he was able to keep the peace with just three other “cops” and himself. Of course, the town had fewer than 8,000 people then, but what the hell. Today, a staff of 35 filled the new police station, which the town had put off building for years because of politics. And here you are, taking over in complacent, small-town, USA. Folks in your community believe they live in the safest place in the world…good schools, wonderful after school activities, a Little League all-star team that made it to regionals last year, and, well, you get the point.

After 911, people in town were sad for the folks in New York, but that was the big city and “our town” is safe from that kind of thing. Then came Paris, Berlin, San Bernadino, Las Vegas, and “Oh, boy, I’m glad we live where we are because nothing like that could ever happen here.” That’s something like saying that an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut would never see a tragedy where an evil person would kill 20 kids, six adults, and himself. It’s like saying that schools like Virginia Tech are safe because they have a great campus police force, yet 32 students weren’t safe when a gunman went on a rampage.

I’m not certain that Americans are ready for the news, but you don’t live in a safe country anymore. You, we live in a country that is just as vulnerable to attacks as any other nation in the world. You may not like to hear that, but if that new police chief cited above is not taking a hard look at the soft targets in his town, you need to get rid of him and find someone who will take that hard look. Son of a “great guy” or not, every chief in every town in America, if they haven’t done so already, should be looking at what times a home-grown terrorist or just a wackadoodle – and they are in every single town – could go off half-cocked and make a name for himself or herself for that matter by destroying the peace and killing others.

Is this being an alarmist? Gee, wish I could say, “Yeah,” but I can’t. Granted, what happened in New York City recently was a genuine terrorist attack. Trump called Sayfullo Saipov a sick and deranged individual. That’s wrong. That’s justifying what he did. That’s giving the son-of-a-bitch an excuse. He isn’t sick or deranged, he’s evil. ISIS is evil. Al Qaeda is evil. These people have no real purpose in life other than to make the lives of others fear filled. They don’t offer a better way of life for their converts or supporters. They stone women to death for no reason. They cut off the heads of those they don’t like for no reason other than that they don’t like them.

To me, it’s only a matter of time before some small town has a Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, or New Year’s parade or large celebratory assembly where two, three, four hundred people or more are celebrating, and some evil, “Allahu Akbar” bastard crashes the party with an AK-47 in one hand and a 23-round, 9-millimeter pistol in the other, and starts killing. Unless the small-town police force has been briefed on what to do when – not if – when this happens, there’s going to be a lot of hell to pay in ‘small-town-USA.’

“See something; say something,” is wonderful, but what if you don’t know what you’re even supposed to be seeing. After the recent bicycle slaughter in New York, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Did they have steel or concrete bollards in place to prevent a car from entering that bike path? Did they have them at other points along the road where a car might have been prevented from entering.” By the fact that this terrorist entered the bike path at its beginning, I guess the answer is, “No, they hadn’t gotten around to it.” They had visited 148 truck rental companies like U-Haul, Ryder, Home Depot, etc, but… That’s not for me to judge. I have great admiration for Commissioner James O’Neill and the NYPD. They are tough, effective, efficient, and thorough. They also have a massive amount of territory for which they are responsible, so a small thing like this could easily slip through the cracks. Bet it won’t slip through many more. Bet there’s a whole lot of brainstorming going on in some precincts today.

I cannot help but wonder if police chiefs across the country are taking a look at their bike trails. Are they open to cars? Are they crowded enough at any single time where a terrorist could make an impact by running down bikers or runners. Is there an attitude of, “We’re too small for something like that,” or is the attitude one of, “We should really take a look at potential areas for disaster in our community?” We thought our schools were safe until Columbine. We thought our colleges were safe until Virginia Tech. We thought our world was reasonably safe until 911. Sorry and sad to say, the world, no matter where you are, is no longer a safe place in which to live. “Plan for the worst and pray for the best,” I guess has to be our new mantra.

It’s not difficult to agree and disagree with someone at the same time…well, much of the time it’s not difficult. General John Kelly’s recent remarks about the Civil War occurring because of “the lack of ability to compromise,” is, most assuredly, a naïve and simplistic explanation. I suppose it could be called ignorance, since Kelly was not born and raised in the South and would have read but not experienced the differences in the northern and southern cultures. That aside, however, I certainly agree with Kelly that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. Although Lincoln asked Lee to take command of the United States Army, Lee’s loyalty lay with his state. In this regard, I believe that to many men of that time, particularly military men and particularly men who had graduated from West Point, such as Lee, were more inclined to support the area from which they came as opposed to a nation that was still in its infancy.

Historians have immediately come out to castigate Kelly. I would ask the question of these supposed experts, “Were you there? Are you so certain of all of your facts that you can take this man to task?” Sure, we are convinced that the single cause of the war was slavery, that African Americans were considered, at worst, inhuman and at best, three-fifths of a human being, but unless we were living at the time, it’s darned difficult to know the exact truth. Personally, I admire writers and historians like Ron Chernow, Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Carl Sandburg, Bruce Catton, and the many others who have written of the Civil War. Like anything else, however, it’s tough to write it if you can’t taste it or smell it or weren’t a part of it. A friend of mine was an infantry officer in Korea. He said that the two things people who have never experienced war would be lost to understand are the cacophony and the smell. “In battle, your ears are battered, and the smell is horrific,” he said. I have no frame of reference for that, therefore, I would be a fool if I was attempting to write about it as fact.

Bear with me here for a minute. Picture yourself on a sunny Sunday morning, July 21, 1861. You’re 12, maybe 13 years old. You’ve been to church with mother, father, your sister and baby brother. You’ve been rolling a hoop around the backyard as part of your play whey you spy mother and father loading a picnic basket into the wagon. “Where are you going?” you ask. “We thought we’d take you all down to Manassas to watch a bit of the war,” replies your father. Now, split yourself in two. Half of you is the 1861 person and half of you is the 1943 person standing by your farm somewhere near Prokhorovka, where the largest tank battle in the history of warfare is about to be launched. The 1861 you is probably going to respond, “How wonderful of you to think of taking us off to see the war,” while the 1943 part of you may well be thinking, if not saying, “Are you out of your freakin’ mind?” See the different mind sets that can occur in less than a hundred years? Fascinatin,’ ain’t it?

Sure, we all know that slavery was ‘the’ cause of the Civil War, but what about the fact that the Southern economy was in trouble. Other countries were climbing on the cotton bandwagon, and the South could no longer lay claim to “King Cotton” as their key to wealth and prosperity. The South was a one-crop economy while the North was growing its industrial economy and had s large financial sector looking for expansion. In addition, ten years prior to the conflict, California, Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas all became states. Should they be slave states or not? Kansas initially was and was denied statehood, while the others, “free states,” were granted statehood immediately. This further tested the relationships between slave-holding states in the South and the abolitionist ‘yankee’s in the North. There is little difference in the breakdown of civil discourse between then and now. Those favoring slavery, for example, killed an abolitionist printer in a mob action in 1837. Anti-slavery groups would attack pro-slave people and groups and do the same damned thing. Can you say, “White supremacists versus leftist liberals?” or “Rights versus my rights only?” However, I must say that I don’t believe we are on our way to another Civil War…yet.

In researching, I came across a paragraph in Intellectual Take-Out that I found revealing: “Even before the Constitution was written, Samuel Johnson ironically asked, “How is it that the loudest yelps for liberty come from the drivers of Negroes?” By the 1850s the hypocrisy could no longer be ignored because of the sheer scope of slavery. The Census of 1860 shows there were some 4 million slaves in the South—compared to 78,000 in 1727 and 697,000 in 1790.” By these statements, if our Constitution reads that we are a nation conceived in liberty, how could slavery ever be allowed in the first place. When you come right down to it, the North and the South were really two different nations from the outset. The North was an industrial economy with a strong financial backing and an urge to expand. The South was an agrarian economy with little financial worth that was dependent on slave labor to make money. You might call “culture clash” a major cause of the Civil War. Hell, you can call it anything you wish. Suffice it to say, that two percent of the American population of that time were killed, more by disease than by bullets or artillery. The figure most often cited is 620,000, but some authorities say it might be as high as 700,000. It really doesn’t matter today as we look at civil unrest in this divided country of ours. I truly believe that we are a nation of so much good, that evil stands little chance of creating the type of violence we saw just over 160 years ago…Good God, I hope so!