Sick at Heart

Some of you know I am back at university working on a degree in Appalachian Studies. During some of my reading I came across a quote that echoed with me. It is from Rebecca Harding, the Civil War era journalist/author known for her devotion to Social Justice and advocacy for workers and women. Harding was writing about the cultural climate leading into the Civil War,  the “succession crisis”. Harding, whose family had roots in Alabama, was living with her folks in Virginia when she noted:

“There was a time when the great mass of people took no part in the quarrel,” she wrote. “They were stunned, appalled. I never have seen an adequate description anywhere of their amazement, the uncomprehending horror of the bulk of American people which preceded the firing of that gun at Sumter. Politicians or far-sighted leaders on both sides knew what was coming. And it is they who have written histories of the war. But of the easy-going millions, busied with their farms or shops, the onrushing disaster was as inexplicable as an earthquake. Their protest arose from the sea like the clamor of a gigantic hive of frightened bees.”

Speaking about the year leading into the war, Harding said that Congress and the White House were flooded with letters and supplications to put an end to the madness that appeared to have overtaken the country. The citizenry had a host of answers to fix the country, their views shaped mostly by geography, where they lived. Still, Harding recalled:

“The great mass of the people, as of yet took little interest in any of the questions involved except the vital one – whether the union should be preserved. The union, to the average American of that day, was as essential a foundation of his life as was his Bible or his God.”

It’s an odd thing for me as a writer, as a Gold Star daughter, as a woman, to read words that were penned over a century ago and have the sense that they could be as apt a commentary for the political climate today as they were for that time.

We only have to look to our voting records to see that the great masses people are no different leading into the 2020 election as people were leading into Lincoln’s election. The citizenry don’t want to concern themselves with matters of the country. The Citizenry wants good roads, good jobs, an environment they can enjoy without being poisoned by it. They want to know they can go to the doctor when they are sick and that they can get medical treatment that won’t bankrupt them. They want the opportunity for a good education for their children and grandchildren. They don’t want to send their sons or daughters to war. They don’t want to pay higher taxes than one-percenters. They want people who are guilty of crimes to be held accountable, and those who aren’t guilty to not be imprisoned, or worse, killed. They don’t want the government, local or national, with their noses up their private business. The vast majority of voters want to be able to have guns for hunting but not assault weapons for hunting humans. They want children to be loved and cared for, all children, no matter their color or immigration status. And the masses want regulations for Social Media, for chemical companies, for mining companies, for Boeing and the pork industry. The masses understand that allowing companies to self-regulate almost always leads to exploiting people, and too often to illnesses and death (Boeing, I’m looking at you).

Harding’s quote reminded me of something that I read years ago that the war criminal Lt. Calley said about the war in Vietnam:  “The average Vietnamese wasn’t interested in any war. They were simply interested in their rice paddy, their water buffalo, taking care of their families.”

People are the same that way the world over. We want lives free of the things that men in Ivory Towers and palaces crave: Absolute power & control over others.

Harding wrote one other thing that resonates with our current climate: “The nation grew sick at heart.”

Sick at heart.

That sums it up doesn’t it?

We are a nation sick at heart, no matter which side of the Trump cult you are on. We fight not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

All evil begins first in the heart and soul of a few. It is rarely contained there, however.

“The happy light went out of the old eyes and never came to them again,” Harding observed.

 

 

 

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

8 Comments

Linda Williamson

about 8 months ago

Wow - maybe your should be the speech writer for the Democratic nominee. How beautifully worded! Thanks.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Ha! I don't think any of them want me as their speech writer. But good golly some of them could certainly benefit from having better writers, better organizers. So far Bloomberg's money seems to have afforded him the best in marketing. His videos are hard-hitting and he's staying focused on where the foulness comes from - Trump - rather than entering the fray that has burdened the others. And with Trump, it is going to take that sort of hard-hitting response.

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AF Roger

about 8 months ago

You write, "We are a nation sick at heart, no matter which side of the Trump cult you are on." I wish I could agree with you. Increasingly each day, I feel as the prophets and Jesus surely felt: the nation is sick alright, but it always manifests itself as their being sick of ME. To wit, half of the New Hampshire voters for Trump said they felt more loyalty to him than to the Republican party. They aren't sick. They are ecstatic! The moral Republican state legislators agreed to back off their raging hope to recall Mitt Romney for a lone vote that made not an iota of difference. Perhaps a few thoughtful words from the Senator in a face-to-face actually carried a little more moral force for a second or two than the latest deluge of tweets from you know who. However, they agreed to end their efforts with the contingency of sending the president a "citation" lauding his efforts on behalf of Utah. Translation: severely restricting the protecting of priceless natural areas and their opening to oil and gas leases. As if the earth were starving for fossil fuels to burn. The definition of death spiral addiction is consuming ever more of what is already killing us. Money rules the day, not what's moral. If defeating Trump were mandatory, and I think it is, one would think the opposition would have sobered up long enough to have figured a better way to go about it in the three years they've had since the last fiasco when Trump actually WAS beatable. It's like the old adage about teenage boys riding around in a pickup: the collective IQ is inversely proportional to the number of boys in the cab. Same for Democratic candidates for president and/or their campaign advisors. Instead of starting with two dozen plus candidates, why not start with 50 or a 100, three from every state?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

It does make sense that if Capitalism propels your worldview, then the only thing that matters at all to you is money and power. I think Rush Limbaugh offers an excellent example of that. In his dying days, he focuses not on redemption or making himself a better man but continues to use his voice to deride and demean others. Limbaugh is full of rot. I am not sure he believed the hate he spewed, I think it was a way for him to obtain power and money. But at some point that became his core. And so his concern isn't for any betterment of himself, any redemption of his soul. He cares no one wit. I suspect that is the same for most everyone Trump surrounds himself with.

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AF Roger

about 8 months ago

Two things today. Here's a 40-minute discussion with Ezra Klein on his book Why We're Polarized (and what it means): https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/thinkoutloud/segment/ezra-klein-on-why-were-polarized/ . Other piece is a re-read of Jim Wallis' book The Call to Conversion (1981, revised 2005). The crux for Christians is a fundamental misunderstanding of what "the gospel" is. The good news is not that after being baffled by the question for most of eternity, the Heavenly Father finally figured out a mechanism for the remission of sins so that some small segment of humanity that verbalized the correct formulation of the sinner's prayer could escape hellfire. The good news is the fulfillment, enactment, realization of the kingdom of God as described in the Sermon on the Mount. This was never to be taken as theoretical, hypothetical or in a fairytale ideal world or the great hereafter. If there is anything in Scripture to take more literally than the Sermon on the Mount, I could not imagine what that might be. Wallis gets at it around p. 54. How much "gospel" preached in churches and over the airwaves is actually that gospel?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Not much at all. Thankfully, there is Rev Barber out there calling us to remember what Gospel should be. There is Stevenson calling us away from anger and toward justice. There are voices. It's just that there is this Ever Present Darkness hovering over us right now.

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Estella

about 8 months ago

Missed you. Found your blogspot and I feel better, having heard from my favorite wordsmith. Thanks for the insight. Those folk in New Hampshire seemed focused on one thing—money...”my IRA is wonderful, kid’s college fund is growing...that’s what matters.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Estella: I miss everyone, too, but just can't handle FB right now. They need some regulations and Mark Zuckerberg simply refuses to provide the sort of oversight a platform like his needs. So I've gone old school, back to blogging. Thank you for signing up. Please feel free to reach me here or by email or on FB messaging. I do get those still.

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