Monday, March 13, 2006

False Pride

"Pride comes before a fall..."

Ory Main, Southern cotton plantation owner, and George Hazzard, Northern industrialist gentleman, face off - each arguing their position. Defensively, Ory shouts at his best friend "you can't just come down here and change our way of life."

"the truth will set you free"

I was born and raised in Texas. And Texas, really is like a country of its own! Perhaps because for a short period of time after we fought and won the war against Mexico, we were a country. That fact, allows Texas to fly it's state flag the same height as the American flag, all other states must fly their flag lower.

Texan's have a strong sense of nationalism and pride. I have capitalized on that fact. It raised my self-esteem (something I could lay claim to) and established my sense of self. I might not be much but I AM from Texas! I never really considered what I was proud of; what being from Texas meant; how being born in the south prejudiced me towards certain notions.

Several years ago, for the first time, I drove to the East Coast. I made my way through Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania. I passed through Gettysburg and saw the battleground now teeming with tourists walking the slaughter fields. Unfortunately, I didn't follow up my curiosity to learn more about the Civil War from the North's point of view.

Schools teach Civil War and US history pretty early in academic development. I remember very little "facts" about the War Between the States, aside from the reality we (the South) lost the war at a very high cost of life and pride.

I remember hearing tales of Northern "carpetbaggers" who came down and took advantage of the decimated Southern economy. I know the date when the emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, TX because my grandmother was born 47 years later on (Juneteenth - June 19th). But the rest has been lost to a school child's understanding (you only need to memorize these dates until Friday's test).

I ordered the series "North and South" on DVD to present as a gift to Allan and Patsy on my 5th delivery for Samaritan Purse - a sort of anniversary celebration. The first time I came to Ghana they were airing it on TV and we continue (over the last six years) to utilize the exaggerated southern accents we heard during the telecast, from time to time when we speak to each other.

"Are you ready for a WAA-A-A-R (war)?" "Have you been to GEE-OAR-GEE-UH (Georgia)?" It always brings a laugh and reminiscence - because after all we share the same heritage. We are all Texans!!

As we watched the progression of the series, friendships formed and the cultural clashes faced between two proud young men, I began to wonder what and why had I held on to my Southern "pride"? It seemed growing up, being schooled in the south, "pride" was a heritage - the only thing "THEY" (them damn Yankees) could not take away from us.

We are ladies and gentlemen down here. It is not uncommon for us to refer to one another as "mam" and "sir" from time to time. It is a form of politeness that has roots as deep as the magnolia trees that bloom here. The legacy of courtesy overshadowing a very dark past.


Watching "North and South" here in Africa, in Ghana - one of the largest slave supplying regions - has been cathartic. Thinking about a society steeped in traditions of etiquette and politeness while yet propitiating human enslavement and cruelty, is something I just can't get my mind around.

And even though I can safely protect my sense of security, almost 150 years from the South's slavery past, I can't deny that I grew up in a household where "they" had their place and we had ours. My parent's forbid the use of the "N" word, but it was still heard in my grandparents house, and in a can of mixed nuts, everyone avoided the ones from Brazil because we all knew they were 'nigger toes'.

"You shall know..."

Pride is a funny thing. Based on some "belief" system (you are better, bigger, smarter, richer) that places you above and someone else below your rung on the ladder. We fool ourselves into believing something about the sentiment is based on "truth". We get far enough away from the facts to hold our head high above the rest because we "know" who we are. But do we really ever?

Sounds like sin, and the lies the enemy perpetuates in our hearts. Telling us our "feelings" about ourselves are more valid than the "truth" about ourselves. Preventing us from the cycle of confession and redemption and God's heart towards revealing and healing.

I have committed to learning more about my heritage - I have repented of my pride.