Friday, March 7, 2014

History, Horror, & Heroism

Dear John,
 
I didn't go to church tonight. I got home from work around 3:30, kept falling asleep, lay down for a nap, and woke up too late to go. I know what you're thinking - if I can sleep that long during the day, I had no business going anywhere tonight. And you're right. It's been a busy week at work and at church, and it's much more important that I'm there this weekend. See, I'm figuring these things out for myself!
 
I found something hideous and beautiful on Pinterest tonight. It's a compendium of the Civil Rights Movement, basically photos with captions, and I wish I could make everybody I know read every word and look at every photo. It's harrowing, inspiring, hideous, and beautiful. There is so much evil and so much good, villains and heroes, horror and heroism. It's amazing. And it is why I am who I am. It's where and when I grew up. It's a record of the most powerful shaping force of my childhood.
 
The whole thing looked like nonsense when I was a child. I could never understand why it mattered who sat next to you at the lunch counter or on the bus. In order to preserve segregation, otherwise-reasonable people committed unimaginable acts. It looked like mass insanity to my childhood mind. I was outraged by what I saw. Now it looks less insane than diabolical. I'm not using that word lightly - I mean it in its fullness. It makes me shudder.
 
I shared the Pinterest post on Facebook. I doubt that anybody will really look at it - it took me almost an hour to go through it all. But I have to offer it because it is important. Yes, it explains why I am who I am. But it also explains who the country is. You can only understand the present in the context of the past. We owe it to those who suffered so much, to at least know about their suffering and sacrifice. Very few people in this part of the country have any clue what really went on then, and they need to. This is terribly important.
 
Well, I know I don't have to convince you of that. After 34 years of marriage to me, you know it all. Thank you for caring and understanding. Thank you for being outraged when you were a teenager and the jury declared Tom Robinson guilty. Thank you for reading the book and meeting Tom Robinson. He, and so many others, deserve our respect. We owe it to them to remember and honor them.
 
I'll try to pull myself down off of the soapbox. If you have any influence, please try to get people to read my post - to click on the link and really read it. I know I've said this before, but it's important.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

No comments:

Post a Comment