Statues and the Living

There are numerous and seemingly compelling explanations informing us why we need to leave confederate monuments and flags standing. Reasons like: it’s part of our collective history; these were good men who should be remembered and honored; and my personal favorite: whose statue will be next on the chopping block, Washington or Jefferson?

While these arguments may seem rational and are certainly being shared by scores of people, I for one am not impressed.

Let’s be clear. I am not someone who needs a hero or heroine. I couldn’t care less about a monument, unless of course it was a monument to peace. But the irony is hard to resist. People are angry over the treatment of statues while in Charlottesville, VA on Aug 12th, almost three years to the day of martial law in Ferguson, MO and almost a year to the night of the infamous nine-hour water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullet salute by law enforcement to unarmed and peaceful water protectors in Standing Rock – now we have the juxtaposition of predominantly white, angry and armed young men shouting hate speech and blatantly unafraid of and untouched by police.

A young woman of peace lost her life as the escalation of violence between the two sides of anger clashed. A young Black man was brutally pummeled with poles. And the White House is worried whose statue will come down next…

I don’t know about you, but when a society cares more about the dead than the living, we have a problem. When a society, professes boldly, In God We Trust, and then dismisses hatred and violence with rhetoric as weak as “it is a part of our history”, we have a problem. My friends, today is tomorrow’s history and it is not looking so good right now.

In this time of unrest, think about the words you use. Think about the trajectory you are subtly and not so subtly supporting. Violence on either end of the spectrum is not helping us. If the dead could talk, perhaps they would say, this is not the path you want to go down. The ways of war and hatred have all been tried and have failed.

Let us for once take the path of peace. It is time we become our own personal hero.


This post aired on “Consider This”in September 2017, on WDRT ‘s Driftless Community Radio. Listen to the live stream every Thursday at 5:28pm CST. Thank you.

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