The Good, Bad and Ugly- Instead of Erasing History, We Need to Learn from It

For the past few generations we’ve been transforming from a dominant Christian society to a divisive politically correct, tolerant to everyone but Christ secular culture. Secular progressivism is now dominant and it is the state religion that has set the rules of society.

While our present society of secular progressivism touts themselves as all inclusive, they have no problem putting every person and every ideology into sub classes or groups.  While they claim their goal is for everyone to be equal, their social justice programs do the complete opposite, and often times purposely pit one group against another.  For the past year or so the products of decades of leftist liberalism have been attempting to erase America’s history by tearing down monuments, statues and changing street names having to do with any Confederate ties.  Does erasing history make us a better nation by focusing only on the wrongs done in the past?

America is not and has never been a perfect country.  In spite of all the goodness which has spread out from America to touch the rest of the world, there are events in the past which have remained in the minds and hearts of generations.  From the stains of the past from the Trail of Tears, Slavery and Internment Camps to the Civil Rights struggles in the South and Anti War hate filled acts towards young men coming home from Vietnam; America has had her share of national shame.

In that respect, America is no different than every other country in the world. What separates America from the rest of the world though is the blood of patriots which was given so that wrongs could be made right, and that America has never forgotten the dark periods in her past, and has strived to learn from them.

Over 150 years ago, America went to war- against America. Both sides made choices, both lost and both sides gained following the war where brothers fought against brother, fathers against sons, friends against friends. For those living right on the battle lines between north and south, the decisions made, to have to choose which side to fight for had to be heart rendering. The fight changed the course of things and there was still a lot to do, but great changes came about because of it.

I’ve always raised my son to be aware of what’s going on in the world so he could get a more critical understanding that there is more to life than just our own personal ‘universe’. There is a big world out there with all kinds of people, and that a lot of good and bad things go on in it. Not everything has to do with us, but a lot of things that happen can affect the way we live and hopefully teach us how to conduct ourselves.

The downside to this is that our kids often see behavior which is antithetical to everything we try to teach them, even in history books.  Trying to deal with sensitive issues such as slavery, and then compare it to what’s happening in our country today, where we are so divided racially… It’s hard to put things into perspective what we learn about some great people of our past, when looking at our country now seeing people still blaming things such as slavery for their own miseries.

Let me put it this way. When I look at the biographies of men such as George Washington Carver, I see a man of faith with a moral foundation who in spite of his early life growing up in slavery became a renowned American botanist and inventor.  He never blamed his circumstances or used them to keep himself down or to grow bitter from.  He never allowed something such as ‘white privilege’ to keep him from working hard and learning so he could make a better life for himself and those around him.

His father died before he was born, and he was separated from his mother as a little boy when she was taken by raiders from the Carver’s Missouri farm where she had been a slave along with George’s siblings.

Moses and Susan Carver owned a small farm compared to the plantations of the day, but they were successful. When the Civil War ended in 1865 and slavery was abolished, the Carvers decided to raise George. Susan Carver taught George to read and write, since no local school would accept black students at the time. From an early age, George had more than just a green thumb. He had an incredible gift with plants and was known to those around him as “the plant doctor”.

When he was a little older, since he wasn’t allowed to attend school, George headed out on his own, traveling through the Midwest, adding to his education wherever he could. He supported himself by cooking, cleaning and doing some farm labor. He had been accepted to Highland College in Kansas, but was turned away when he arrived because of his skin color. He finally found his way to Indianola, Iowa and was able to enroll at Simpson College in 1890.

At Simpson Carver majored in art, but a teacher convinced him to transfer to Iowa State College to study agriculture. Carver had been an impressive and talented student in horticulture and also taught freshman biology. He earned his master’s degree in agriculture in 1896, and after graduating; he accepted an offer from Booker T. Washington to head the agricultural department at the all-black-staffed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where he worked for nearly 20 years.

He taught classes, operated an agricultural experiment station and gave demonstrations which helped poor farmers and share croppers learn how to increase soil fertility without commercial fertilizers, rotating and growing alternative crops. With Carver’s help, farmers were able to grow more productive crops. He researched uses of such crops as cow peas, sweet potatoes, and peanuts and developed a variety of uses for each but especially in growing Peanuts.

Carver’s work transformed him from the “Plant Doctor” to the “Peanut Man.” Carver’s work led to speaking engagements which took him away from the Institute often, and by the late 1920’s, he stopped teaching and devoted most of his time to advise peanut producers and giving lecture tours of white college campuses which were sponsored by the Commission on Interracial Cooperation and the YMCA.

He developed close relationships with young white students and helped them to understand racial injustice, as well as mentoring many black students.

George Washington Carver once said that “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses

George was offered many honors and wealth from patents over the years, but never chose to patent his discoveries explaining, “One reason I never patent my products is that if I did it would take so much time, I would get nothing else done. But mainly I don’t want my discoveries to benefit specific favored persons.”

While Carver never made any significant scientific breakthroughs, or developed any real feasible new products, he did revolutionize agricultural science with his cultivation of soil-enriching crops to revive earth that had been depleted of nutrients from cotton farming. He discovered over 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 uses for the peanut. His ideas of sustainable agriculture based on renewable resources while Biblical, were really before his time. Carver even worked with auto giant Henry Ford to try and develop sustainable fuel sources.

His early work helped countless sharecroppers, and later his devotion to teaching and sharing his knowledge inspired thousands of young people, both blacks and whites.

Things were far from perfect back in those days, and there were ignorant jerks back then just as there are in our times.  What separates then and now is the moral work ethic that transcended race and class. Belief that all humans have been given talents and skills along with hopes and dreams to make our world a more decent place was more common place when we also believed that we are created in God’s image, worth the blood Jesus shed for us.

I would that more people in our time would look and learn from our history instead of erasing it- and see that men lived their dreams in spite of the good, the bad and the ugly.