Here’s the thing about Confederate monuments, whether they’re statues, buildings, whatever: they were erected and named in order to try to heal the country after a brutal civil war. States and counties and cities put up the statues and named the buildings—try to put yourself in the shoes of the losing side. To half the country, the Confederate monuments were honoring their heroes; many of those men were indeed heroic on the battlefield, regardless of their beliefs or yours.

I don’t think any one of them say “Here lies a great slaveowner.”

People are complicated. Each one of us does good things and bad things. It’s okay to remember the good and condemn the bad. That doesn’t mean you forget the bad.

And trying to ascribe modern thinking to the past will definitely muddle it up.

Comparing Confederates to Hitler is erroneous; Confederates fought in a war, Hitler tried to annihilate an entire people. Yes, it’s that simple.

You should, rightfully, believe that slavery was a terrible thing. Neither you nor I had one single thing to do with it, but yes, our ancestors did. Our ancestors. Not us.

Now, you can be angry, you can be enraged about the Civil War and how people used to think and believe and act, but you also can’t know what each of them were thinking or why they did what they did. Sure, there are still some letters and papers that give clues, but as for individuals, you just can’t know.

The Civil War split families and communities even then, yet here were are, doing the exact same thing. Having an air of superiority about your own beliefs and completely discounting others’ is wrong, no matter the subject.

Do you have kids? Aren’t there some things they’ve done that you’re proud of? Of course there are. What about things they’ve done or said that appalled you? Does that make you say, “Screw them, I hate them, they’re terrible children?” I seriously doubt it.

I’ve told my ancestor story before, but I’ll tell it again:

Once upon a time, a fourteen-year-old boy in Mississippi joined up to fight for the South; so did his three brothers and his father. They were sharecroppers; they owned no slaves. “States’ rights” was a rallying cry then, so maybe that’s why they fought. I don’t know, and neither do you.

Stanford Smith was captured in Arkansas. At some point, he escaped, and he was helped by another young teenage boy, a Yankee soldier. After the war, Stanford became a minister and married a young lady who reportedly had Indian blood. Some time later, that Yankee who helped him escape during the war, Jonathon Kirk, wrote to him about selling some horses; Jonathon and his son, Samuel, took a herd to Mississippi where Samuel fell in love with Stanford’s daughter. They married when she turned sixteen.

That, my friends, is the ultimate healing. No one bitched about a statue, no one burned down a building because of its name, but two families came together. And if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here, and neither would my cousins.

Even if I knew for sure that Stanford believed in slavery, I wouldn’t slash him from family history—he had his reasons, even if I don’t agree with them, whatever they were. I wouldn’t presume to speak for him, and, maybe the entire point is that he’s been dead for 111 years. Many, many things have changed since then.

Prepping for COVID-19

I read the news, I hear what people all over the world are saying, and yes, I’ve read a few books on the end of the world. Written a few, too. So I’m going to give my thoughts on this whole epidemic.

It’s probably not as bad, or going to get as bad, as some people think, but it’s also not just “a bad flu” or something that washing your hands more than usual is going to fix. You can “what if” yourself into a high(er) blood pressure bracket, or you can prep, or you can blow it off and be caught unprepared. Your choice, of course, but I’d rather be ready and wrong than not.

We’ve been ready for the “whatevers” for eight years now, and in different ways depending on where we’ve lived. For the first three years, we lived in St. Louis County; since then, we’ve been out here in the middle of the woods. It’s a lot harder to avoid people when you’re surrounded by them, and often you don’t think about all those with whom you come into contact on a daily basis.

For instance, early on in our prepping, we saw people at the bookstore, we got food delivery, my husband worked in retail, we ran errands and shopped, and our son went to school. In one day, all of us were exposed to several hundred people who in turn had been exposed to several hundred more and so on…so if you live in an urban or suburban area, this is you, now, with COVID-19 running loose.

Oh, you’re washing your hands more often? Good for you. Too bad everyone isn’t, especially those who think COVID-19 is no big deal. Think long and hard about how many people you come into contact with, and how many those in your household also run into in the course of a day or a week.

Out here, we rarely see anyone unless we go to town for something. But when the nearby Army fort is closing to the public and guard gates are manned by soldiers wearing protective gear, you get a little antsy. Just a little. My neighbors have been sick lately—not COVID-19, but other respiratory issues, which can weaken one’s immune system if they happen to be exposed to something else. And this could be you, too, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Some people talk about a worst-case scenario with a lot of what-ifs and, sure, it could happen. Probably won’t, but my personal opinion is that we’ll know more in the next few weeks. Some people deal with this by assuming they can get things delivered so won’t have to go out and be exposed; that’s great, unless the delivery person is sick or the restaurant worker who handled your food is sick. And even if you don’t get exposed then and there, will there be enough people coming to work to keep the restaurant functioning?

And it’s not just food. Make a list of EVERYTHING you use or eat or drink on a daily basis for two weeks—that’s the minimum, that’s the time you’d be quarantined if you were exposed. Now add things to that list that you might need if you got sick. There’s a lot more than people tend to think about.

Everyone talks about having enough of your prescriptions, but what about OTC meds? Do you have enough Advil (especially if you get sick), antibiotic cream, cortisone cream, lotion, Bandaids, allergy meds, etc.? Toothpaste, shampoo, soap? The ever-memed toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, trash bags? What do you normally eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts? Too many people, especially in urban areas, still have the mindset that they can “run to the store” and pick up something. Maybe you can’t, either because of illness or quarantine or maybe the store ran out. Plan ahead. That’s all this is.

On Facebook this morning, I mentioned that the media refers to preppers as “panicked.” I don’t know any preppers who are panicking—it’s non-preppers who seem to be either worrying, panicking, or blowing off the whole thing. When you’re a prepper, you analyze what you know, determine the worst-case scenario, and plan accordingly. Then you don’t have to worry, and certainly don’t have to panic. And if that worst-case doesn’t happen, well, at the very least you won’t have to buy groceries for a while.

However, as I finished up this blog post, WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. There’s a case being tested in the county next door to me. Many events in large cities are being canceled through April—although others are not. Many colleges are closing campuses and switching to online classes.

At this point, all I can do is double-check my supplies and prepare to hunker down; I have plenty to do on the farm, after all. I’m not particularly afraid of contracting the illness, although I don’t want to share it with my husband. I’m not afraid of running out of food or other things I need, or even some that I want. I’m not afraid of being bored when isolated or quarantined, if it comes to that. But here’s the thing, if everyone limits contact, there’s a lower chance of COVID-19 spreading. Sure, most people have no to mild symptoms, but for others it’s much more serious, and if the hospitals are full of people who need treatment, what happens to those who need treatment or surgery for other random issues that everyone experiences from time-to-time? That’s the big question, really, as to whether this outbreak is serious enough to prepare for almost anything.

The media keeps saying “our lives will change in many ways” but they don’t say how or what:

Imagine being inside, or on your patio even, and going NOWHERE ELSE for at least two weeks, or maybe even two months or more. Do you read? Do you watch movies? How will you keep busy?

Imagine deciding to call for a pizza, and there’s no one open, no pizza, and no delivery drivers available—and any one of the people involved could be infected.

Imagine then deciding to make your own pizza—do you have flour, yeast, salt? Pizza or tomato sauce and a few herbs? Cheese or vegetables or meat to top that pizza?

Imagine that you can rely on no one but yourself. Are you ready for that?

No more going to the movies, or stopping by the library to pick up a book; no more grabbing a beer with friends after work; no more work, perhaps, at least not in the office. So many things we do without thinking.