Monday, October 09, 2006
The Ugly Part 1
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we offer a possibility that will absolutely confound certain segments of the American population. Guess what? Pagans have morals! We're kind and generous people! We care about the earth and about the less fortunate. So what if we belly dance to drum music? Is having some clean fun that loathsome?
Maybe we need some pagans in Congress. Strike the maybe.
Crash! Clatter clatter clatter! Klok klok klock.
Oh dear. Annie's opened the good ol' ancestral closet. Out fall the skeletons, good, bad, and ugly.
Samhain is nigh upon us, and as you enlightened folks know, it's the time when the veil between the here and the hereafter runs thin. So this is the best time of the year to work out those issues with your dearly departed. And if they were dear to you, this might be the time to ask them to intercede in your current troubles.
Personally I have some deep issues with my ancestors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Specifically, my mother's people. They were slave owners. Some of my ancestors who owned human beings (talk about loathsome) were benign for their time. One loathsome ancestor bought a male slave because he owned the man's wife. Then he freed their children when the children became 27. (But recall that in 1830, 27 was the equivalent to 50 today.)
Unfortunately it gets uglier. I have another ancestor who was an overseer for iron forges on South Mountain in Maryland. An African American scholar did her dissertation on the iron forges and found out many facts about slave life at that location. None of it was good, readers. The slaves sent to these forges had been iron smelters in their native land and knew many techniques that improved on European technology. You think the slaves got rewarded for that? Nope. They had to work 7 days a week, with two hours off on Sunday to hear a sermon. When they died they were buried near the forge in unmarked graves.
Sometimes I feel like the great-great-great granddaughter of Vlad the Impaler.
What have I done to atone for the sins of my mother's kinfolk? Not enough. Can't fund a scholarship, I can't keep up with my own bills. But trust me, if the U.S. government ever went for reparations and raised my taxes, I'd be among the minority of Americans who would suck up and pay without complaint.
The school in which I substitute teach draws its student body from Camden, New Jersey. The students are about 50 percent African American and 48 percent Hispanic, with a smattering of Asian. When I see those kids pouring into the school in the morning, I can only be grateful that one of America's most heinous hurdles has been leaped. Although the playing field is not yet anywhere near level, at least it's not a cliff anymore, with one race at the top and the other at the bottom.
So, this Samhain, with the help of my father's people, I want to work off the bad karma of my mother's people.
And by the way, Christian pastors of the eighteenth century used their pulpits to condone slavery and used the Bible to justify the practice. Hmmmm. Today certain Christian pastors are denouncing homosexuality and using the Bible to justify their views. Might we some day leap that heinous hurdle too? I hope so.
THE ASHAMED MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
"Eyeball Vulture," by Cy, to be used only with permission of "The Gods Are Bored."