Home is where the heart is

Posted on September 22, 2021


I woke up a few mornings ago—always a good sign when one gets up in age—and heard this song by a little girl, “Home is where the heart is.” It was a sweet, soothing song and I wrote it down so as not to forget it as we so often do of dreams.

In this day of seeming despair, anger, accusations, and strife running like an electric current through our world, shocking everyone into disbelief at a world gone slightly mad, I think we need to take stock of what is important. Is truth and wisdom important to you? Where do these values issue from? From your political party, or affiliation? Are you a Democrat, a Republican, a Progressive, a Conservative, an Independent? Do those parties supply your set of values by which you live?

Are the treasonous acts of the administration in Afghanistan in some fashion meaningful to you? Do they change your life? Or not? After all, what can I do about it?

Do you put yourself at the center of your life? What!? you may ask? Of course I do. If not me, who, or what is going to determine what kind of person I am supposed or want to be? Who is going to work and bring home the bacon (unless you live in a Muslim country) for a living?

What has all this to do with the little girl who sang her quiet song in my dream, “home is where the heart is.?” We’re facing monumental crises, so we’re told by pundits and social media mavens, in the history of our country, and you’re talking of the home? What else are you going to throw at me in this column? The church? Religion? The environment?

“C’mon man”, as our President Joe Biden is fond of saying, don’t bother me with stuff I know.

What about the near warfare now raging now among politicians? Is this the way we should behave? It is marked by the vilest rhetoric which some say is an outrage destroying our democracy. We always settle our differences peacefully, rationally, yada, yada, yada.

Many who speak and write that way need a quick, or perhaps a more profound, review of the American Revolution. What do they think the Boston Tea Party was about? A peaceful demonstration aimed at convincing King and Parliament to be more reasonable, listen to the colonist’s claims about taxation? And the South Carolina secessionists when they assaulted Ft. Sumter with cannon fire in 1861? Was this the beginning of a peaceful solution to an apparently irresolvable issue: what to do about slavery in America?

“C’mon man,” let’s look at history. We have not always passively and peacefully resolved our differences. Why did we fight then? Were the American Revolution and the Civil War worth fighting for? Why are we fighting now? These are good questions for a seminar on modern America–like the last two and a half centuries—of American history.

How about this one? Everyone is entitled to vote, right? However, it wasn’t always that way. What are you talking about?! Universal suffrage is in fact a modern historical phenomenon. Women, for example, didn’t get the right to vote in this country until 1919. Look it up. The Nineteenth Amendment.

So, who held and manipulated power until suffrage was extended to all citizens, not just here but across much of the world in the twentieth century?

Obtaining the right to vote wasn’t guaranteed in the U. S. until the amendments following the Civil War. Look up the 13th,14th, and 15th amendments. Check out “Jim Crow” on Wikipedia while you are researching your rights.

Should suffrage be universal, or a privilege with qualifying values, based on such values as: do you pay taxes; do you own property; are you educated? These all, to one extent or another, governed who could vote in the past. Should being a “taker” or a “giver” in the larger scheme of things qualify or disqualify you from suffrage?

 All people have the right to vote you shout explosively, waving your placard at me! To suggest otherwise is a form of dictatorship, misogyny, racism, and a lot of other adjectives we conjure up. Did you know that most, if not all, communist countries (try the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc. etc.) manipulate the “right to vote” outrageously to guarantee some confirmation of universal approval for their regimes and so remain in power?

Before we get totally lost in the thicket of politics and history, let’s finish with our little girl’s song, “Home is where the heart is.” Our values as people, and a people, come from three sources: our home, our Church, our schools. If we are in a mess today, it is because we have failed in one, two, or all three areas over the past three quarters century, or since about the end of the Second World War. Some more to follow in future columns this fall, kind of like a history course. We have a whole semester to work through this. Let’s talk with each other and leave the shouting to others who think they are always right.

Published as “It’s time for all of us to take stock of what is in our heart” Sunday, The Tuscaloosa News, September 11, 2021

Posted in: Life in America