Questions. Points. Counterpoints. Honest conversation. Nothing contentious or hostile, just good old fashioned discussion. That is representative of the responses I received from last week's article. I was thankful to receive it as it is a constructive thing in establishing a true marketplace of ideas.
First, allow me to expound on the idea or the behavior, language, etc. of The South. The idea of the genteel, even aristocratic South raised questions because many Southerners grew up with a more coarse and rough experience. And that is not necessarily less Southern. My point was not that everything has to be starched and spit-polished. My point was propriety and appropriateness. I'm talking about Southern manners and chivalry.
As for some of the other concerns, I focused on the Southern point of view in the previous entry because this is a Southern blog. And, leaning on the teaching of historians of the War Between the States, from almost every side of the discussion, the ending of the war signaled the triumph and adoption of the Northern industrial model over the Southern agrarian model. This has never been a point of contention, even from those who wish to believe that the war was all about slavery.
But questions arose from friends and readers with opinions that I respect. So I sat outside and watched a storm roll in while I pondered this. And I put a lot of thought to it. Where do I draw the line between Southern values and the values of New England or the Midwest.
This question makes me remember my recent Maine trip and the Southern-ish experience I had. It reminds me of spending several days as the guest of the pharmacist in Gilman, Illinois. He ran the locally owned pharmacy in the small prairie town. It reminded me of the little towns and farm houses along my rainy trek from Peoria, to Macomb, to Gaylesburg, Illinois. It reminded me of standing atop Prophet Rock and listening for the shouts and shots of the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek.
But then there's Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. The cities themselves aren't very Southern but perhaps the suburbs are a different story. Boston and Philadelphia are not Southern.
But then again, I've already argued that neither is Atlanta.
So here is where I stand. I think Southern values are lacking these days, so I attempted to address that. I've had some exposure to the values I was asked about. I'd like to see more. I'd like to see a defense of those values. I'd like to see these values shaping society from that direction. I'd like to see our rural areas and our good suburban areas stand up and demand a country that respects Southern, Midwestern, and New England values. I'd like to see cities and industries and other major corporations getting out of our business and not trying to govern us with the same standards that apply to a metropolis. Most of all I'd like to see values, period.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire