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Where Is Your Happy Place?— By John Reed

Where Is Your Happy Place?
Mine is an old man cliché: sitting on my front porch enjoying an evening thunderstorm. Watching waves of wind and rain punctuated by flashes of lightning allows a sense of peace and oneness with nature I can’t find elsewhere. It’s also a good reminder of my powerlessness in the face of natural events.
How do others find peace? For many below a certain age, I’m not sure they ever do. They can only find value from what others say about them: they post constant pictures and updates on Facebook or other social media just so responders can compliment or commiserate with them.
They live in constant fear of being irrelevant. If they can’t control the course of events then obviously the events themselves are of no value. Or the history or motivations behind them are suspect.
My generation’s children have raised a generation of cowards. Thin-skinned, narcissistic, entitled. By living in the most prosperous time in the most generous and prosperous country in the world, they have never faced the kinds of adversity older people lived through and thus have no stomach for anything that questions their well-being.
Their reaction to adversity is to simply change their reality. A perfect example is the current fashion of renaming places after more than 150 years. This effort to erase history won’t change the facts, and dishonors the 600,000 people who died as a consequence of that history.
There is no courage in trying to erase from memory the ugly side of our nation’s history. If anything we need to know even more of it to avoid repetition. We all know the horrors of Andersonville, the Confederate prisoner of war camp. And yet Camp Douglas, Camp Chase, and others in the north were equally horrific. Those histories have been expunged to suit those afraid of the truth.
We’ll never truly come to terms with the consequences of slavery without examining the history of the practice in New England, New York, and elsewhere besides the South. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t change its nature.
As a student of history, I’m no southern apologist. But a clear-eyed assessment of people and events from previous eras allows at least an understanding of why and how events occurred, using the ethics of the time and comparing them to today. I think we’ll find we’re not really all that different now, and trying to erase that is not only counterproductive, but cowardly.
There is no “happy place” to retreat to simply by putting up a new name sign.

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