Give up the small tent

gettysburgA few weeks ago, we had dinner with a friend who was born and raised in New Orleans. Now in her later years, she’d be considered very liberal, so I was surprised when she said for most of her young life, living in the south, she’d always thought the civil war was about economic issues, not slavery.

And yesterday I was listening to a radio show about the battle of Gettysburg celebrating its 150th anniversary.  It’s considered the decisive civil war battle that repelled the Confederate push north.

One of the interviewees on the show was a Southerner and had visited Gettysburg, I think he said, four times. But he went on to say that this was his last visit because there weren’t enough Confederate flags on display for his liking. I think he wasn’t upset about a lack of authenticity and realism. He just wanted to see some validity bestowed on the confederacy. What was he pining for? It’s 2013 and he lives in the US. Why is he nostalgic for a time when some people could own other people?

In 1862, Frederick Douglass, had this to say, “When slavery was assailed twenty-five years ago, the whole land took the alarm, and every species of argument and subterfuge was resorted to by the defenders of slavery. The mental activity was amazing; all sorts of excuses, political, economical, social, theological and ethnological, were coined into barricades against the advancing march of anti-slavery sentiment… When the accursed slavery system shall once be abolished, and the Negro, long cast out from the human family, and governed like a beast of burden, shall be gathered under the divine government of justice, liberty and humanity, men will be ashamed to remember that they were ever deluded by the flimsy nonsense which they have allowed themselves to urge against the freedom of the long enslaved millions of our land.”

Over time people trend toward acceptance because we generally want a bigger more inclusive tent. And it turns out to be better for us all.