Southern- Bless My Heart

As I lay beside my son, unable to drift off to sleep with him during his nap time, my mind wandered into my childhood. The bedroom suite I currently have is that which my parents had when I was his age (considered an antique now). I vaguely remember lying on that bed, in a small military housing apartment. When I was old enough not to take naps, I’d peek in on my brother who still had to take his on that same bed, smugly feeling much more grown-up than a 5-year-old should. He’s almost 5, I should note.

Another detail of that apartment floated up from my sub conscience during these sleepless recollections. It was that of the Confederate battle flag, woven into the decor of our home, next to an American flag. It hung there out of pride of who we are. See, at the time, we were stationed in England. Americans far away from home. Not only Americans far away from home, but Southerners, more specifically, out of sorts in a land among foreigners. Those flags were just a tie to who we were… who we are. A representation of home.

It’s like Texans… you ever meet a real Texan, you know it. They are darn proud of who they are. When you meet them and ask, “So, where you from?” Their chests swell out, and they smirk with pride as they answer, “Texas.” No city, no county; just “Texas”. Texans innately have pride in who they are. Having been an independent Republic, self-sustaining, sought after for what their land had to offer, these decedents of those original Texans have pride in who they are. Their identity in who they are is strong.

It’s much like we Southerners. We are a proud, strong people. The south was a wild region, forged by those strong enough to tame it, desired over decades by countries for its resources, and fought over with passion numerous times. Its history, good, bad, and ugly, has molded Southerners into a people unlike any other. And that same battle flag which once hung in my house as a child, that now has sadly become so tainted, is a symbol of its history. It is a battle flag, and Southerners of all walks of life, all colors, all socioeconomic backgrounds are fighters. Our identity is strong.

To say that Southerners fly the Stars and Bars because we are full of hate is a gross stereotype. And since we’re all in a state of offense- I am offended by the supposition. It’s like saying that all Texans wear Stetsons and boots, spit tobacco, and ride horses simply because they’re from Texas. Some do, but certainly not all. All Southerners do not fly it because we hate or because we are racist. It is flown because we are a proud people. Proud of who we were, who we are.

I cannot argue that the flag is unoffensive to some, but will readily agree that it has become so, and understandably. Putting myself into the shoes of others, I can certainly empathize. So, do not misunderstand my thoughts here. I do not argue that it is unoffensive in this modern times. However, I do argue against ignorance. Ignorance leads to misunderstanding, misconception, and ultimately, chaos.

History has unequivocally proven that tyrants thrive on those ignorant of truth to create chaos thus creating the opportunity to rule.

Despite the current tribulations surrounding the South, I am incredibly proud to be a Southerner. The DNA of a long line of Southerners is woven into the blood that pumps through my heart each and every day. For 300 years, my family has inhabited lands south of the Mason Dixon line. They were self-made men who raised their families in the South. Many of them fought for the Confederacy for the same principles that their grandfathers had fought in the Revolutionary War. Some of those principles, pride, honor, hard work, and the (now dying) American dream are among some of those I hope to pass down.

I’m not ashamed to say it, though in today’s world some would rather I be.

 

 

 

 

Modern Ancient Greece

If the Greek gods had jobs today….

Hermes hears the all-too-familiar ‘ding’. Another person has “liked” a comment on the wall. Maybe there’s even a bit of animosity in a comment left behind too. It warms his heart just knowing that these mortal’s superficial interactions keep him busy. Nothing like their preoccupation with everyone else’s business to keep him running to and fro. Messages may not be what they once were, but he’s satisfied. 

Aphrodite sits patiently as the Botox plumps her aging skin. Really, centuries will do that to a girl. Wonderful that these modern mortals are so infatuated with themselves and their outward appearance. Those Kardashians have done wonders in bringing her name to the lips of humans once again. Beauty and outward appearance are all the rage with these mortals. Not to mention, ‘love’. She’s had to pass that off entirely to Hera. Let beauty remain her specialty!

A girl can hardly take a break what with the divorce rate these days; people falling in and out of love before Helios can bridle up his horses. Hera’s hectic schedule leaves her hardly any time at Mount Olympus. (It’s no wonder her own husband suffers from a ill temper.) Really, these mortal women hardly need her help at all finding a new partner. And as far as needing husbands to help ‘pop out’ children… la! Who needs them anyway? Really, if she weren’t tickled to be so busy, she might be distressed about the situation. Even the Greeks weren’t that liberal with their… um, favors. But as it’s her job, she can be prevailed upon to assist!

Poor Athena, though. She sits in the corner day after day, just hoping that someone will call upon her. Anyone? She looks so forlorn. There’s to be a new president. Maybe he (surely it will be a he) will request her services. She’s been bored for nigh on 50 years now. Wisdom is just not in high demand these days. 

And Posiedon, bless him. He keeps sending earthquakes, storms and tsunamis in an effort to remind the mortals that he’s here too. But since Starbucks changed their cups, certain flags have become unpopular, innocent lions have been killed, and footballs magically deflate of their own accord, people just don’t appreciate how much destruction he’s caused and how many of their own lives have been taken. It’s just not the same as the good ol’ days when people had a healthy respect and fear of the gods. 

 

Though my intent in drawing a parallel is humorous, there is truth behind my words. I am guilty of many of these things which have been mentioned. Too often we forget the eternal situation because we are surrounded by the mortal, earthly one.  The ancient Greeks were overcome by their own ignorance and their pride. Let it not be said the same happened to America.

Dear Somebody

As many of you know, Oklahoma Education is facing an onslaught of budget cuts. I encourage you to write to your representative begging for resolution.

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Dear Representative,

By no means am I a ‘political’ person, and I can honestly say that I have never written to a representative until now. However, my concerns have escalated so that though I feel like one voice in the sea of millions and rather insignificant, I felt an obligation to voice them. May I preface these concerns with acknowledging that I place blame no where. However, I do have expectations that a solution must be found and implemented quickly. As the Vice Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee, I ask for a moment of your time.

I am a school teacher. We are a group of people often over-looked in society until one of our party does wrong. The majority of us choose to teach because we love our students and have a genuine concern for them and their futures. As I began my career eight years ago, during an interview, I was asked, “Why would you want to teach? The pay is bad, you’re under-appreciated, and nothing is getting better.” Though I was floored at first by the candor, my answer surfaced easily, “I want to teach because I love kids, and they all need someone to love them and teach them about life.”

So is true for most of us in the teaching profession. It certainly isn’t for the pay; I could bring home my current $1,800 a month working fast food for a mere eight hours a day. With my college degrees, I could be promoted to manager and bring home far more. However, I choose to teach because I enjoy what I do despite the obstacles and circumstances teachers face daily in school.

I implore you to understand this because my concerns are irrelevant if teaching is merely a ‘job’ to me.

The recent Congressional budgets have continued to cut millions of dollars from education. Recently, I read that “public education in Oklahoma has experienced the deepest cuts of any state in the nation.” No doubt you are fully aware of this. It’s terribly sad… terribly embarrassing. We, as a state, fall below in so many aspects in comparison to others in the country. Should we not place a higher value on education? Education is the means by which our population learns to better themselves, to live beyond a menial existence. Poverty will continue to run rampant if priority is not placed upon education.

The state continues to purloin money from schools, but press teachers to adhere to higher standards and more rigorous teaching methods. Teachers are threatened with pay cuts if students do not do well on state-mandated tests. Students who sometimes have to complete homework by the lamp post on the street corner because there is no electricity at home. Students who have had to feed and dress their siblings before coming late themselves to first hour because their parents are strung out, hung over, or maybe still on the nightshift. We teachers are doing the very best with what we have, but our resources are continually fed upon by other “state departments”, and we are beginning to starve. Forgive me my frustration, but hunger does that to a person.

It’s as though we teachers have had our feet cut off, handed crutches, and expected to try-out for the Olympic Track Team. Now, these recent budget cuts remove a crutch, and still we are expected to run faster. It’s exhausting. It’s deflating. It’s impossible. Far worse, our students feel our desperation. For we want so much for them, but cannot possibly attain it under the current circumstances.

I do appreciate the efforts of those in Congress who have set education as an area of significance and priority above others. However, if I personally budgeted in such a manner as that which is done now, bankruptcy would be lurking outside the front door of my house. Priorities must aligned with society needs, and in an order that will circumvent problems in other areas. Education is of utmost importance, and it is there that answers will be found. These kids who sit in my classroom today, whose lives are impacted directly by decisions made by Congress, are the future of Oklahoma. Please, let them know that they are important, that their lives are worth investing in.
Thank you for your time,

Tara Dyson