I said something rash and inflammatory last night. (For those of you who know me - now is the time to feign shock.)
The subject was the holiday weekend. Those of you reading this in sensible parts of this country observed Martn Luther King, Jr. Day today. Here in Virginia, we too observed that holiday, but only after our state workers had Friday off in observation of Lee-Jackson Day.
I would like to tell you that we in this fine Commonwealth see the literary merits of Harper Lee and the vocal talents of Mahalia Jackson as worthy of a holiday. But no. Alas, we who are so far North that Mississippians say, "Y'all ain't Southerners" feel the need to flex our historic Southern credibility by observing a day "for Heritage". In other words, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. (And if you just said, "Who?" I love you deeply and madly. Call me.)
Come on, Virginia, aren't our superior peanuts and fantastic ham biscuits enough? Can't we be comfortable in our Southern skin knowing that mint can grow wild here and our sweet tea makes your teeth hurt? We got kudzu, Nascar, compulsive thank you note writing, and cotillions. We don't need to harken back to legalized torture, slavery, and centuries of human rights indignities to distinguish ourselves historically.
Not to say I am not a firm believer in teaching history fairly and intensively. Lee and Jackson are fascinating historical figures. Although I feel their loyalties led them down the wrong path, but to be quite honest - what do I know? I wasn't there. There are many lessons in their lives that we could reflect upon today, decisions and choices that were heroic. Just don't give us a day off to do it. And don't plop that day smack dab on top of Dr. King's observation.
Today is a day when I reflect on the elusive seeds of racism, on hope for beloved community, on the ubiquitous nature of human hatred, and on the gentle and life-changing presence of love. This is the outrageous view I proclaimed last night. Well, sort of. I mean... it is what I meant...or... umm.
Ok. SO... maybe I said something along the lines that Americans would observe Charles Manson Day if it meant we didn't have to go to work. And I might have hinted that celebrating heroes on one side of a horrific war that tore our country apart is not the best way to get ones mind wrapped around a message of peace in the Dr. King fashion. And perhaps I went a little overboard with the "A smack in the face is still a smack in the face, even if you do it 3 days early" lines. (Particularly since there were no proponents of Lee-Jackson day as I said these things, you'd think I could ratchet it down a notch or two.)
So there it is. Inflammatory and rash. I apologize and I will work on my non-combative communication skills. But it would really help me out, seeing how our legislature is in session and all, if some kind soul would float a Harper Lee/Mahalia Jackson Day bill. I'm pretty sure a day like that would make me a better person.