Monday, May 20, 2019

Oh, I Do Declare! The Old South is...

...still there! The NY Times is aghast to discover that the Deep South is still traditional in its culture.

Full disclosure: I'm an Ohio transplant to SC. I've lived there for 14 years, and I have made many friends. Still, in many ways, I'm a foreigner. I still am a passionate Cleveland Indians fan (Go Tribe!!!!), my husband still roots for the Cleveland Browns, and I never seem to get my vegetable/flower garden in early enough. For me, Easter is the earliest planting season - most years, we have at least one sub-freezing day, if not more, in early April.

But, I've grown to think of the South as an adopted home. My kids tease me about the slight drawl I've acquired. I'm more tolerant of guns than I was when I lived in a Northern urban region.

I was always a Christian believer (Catholic version), even as a high school graduate. Later, in college, and after, my husband and I were regular attendees at church. So, the pro-religious tendencies of Southerners didn't upset me.

In schools across the South, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited each day, followed by a moment of silence - both are observed respectfully. True, in the New South urban areas, this tradition is not always strictly observed - but that's also true of many other traditions.

I had an easier adjustment to the cultural differences between North and South than my husband. My dad was raised in WV, and, on visits with relatives, I became accustomed to hearing a different point of view. The boy living next door to me in Lakewood, OH, was a rabid Civil War buff - he had a full Yankee uniform (not the NYC kind). By default, in any board games or re-enactment, I was Gray Confederate. I was 10 when the Civil War Centennial  commenced, so my exposure to the controversies - and to the reality of the Civil Rights fight - was a major part of my childhood.

I live in a well-integrated city - more so than most Northern cities or towns, and considerably more than the new developments that most New Southerners live in. These high-income homes are economically segregated, and few People of Color live there. For that reason, few of the New Southerners have Black neighbors. But, despite this, they are the experts on How Black People Think.

North or South, most people socialize with family, school friends, and neighbors. School friends, for non-college graduates, might include some people of other ethnicities - but, for those in fraternities/sororities, there is usually a sharp division between those for Blacks, and those for Whites. Black social clubs seldom include White members. These clubs are where the New Southern Elite are found.

What differentiates the South is the preference for Tradition, and a strong Culture that supports it. The South has its ways, from open and public display of religious feeling, to teaching your children to call adults Ma'am and Sir, and to showing respect for those in the military. Across social and economic classes, I have always been treated with courtesy - you might say it's in their DNA.

The dominant religion is Christian, mostly of the Protestant kind. For several years, in the Low Country, I attended a mission church (about 50 families) - Catholics were that rare in the county seat I lived in. Although fewer of the young are church members (almost 1/3 of those brought up in the New Southern cities are nearly completely ignorant of ANY religion).

The standard Christian theology of the South is Old School, and solidly against abortion. Which puts them in sharp conflict with Those New Southerners Who Scoff at Our Backward Ways. Like our contentious regional ancestors, we may be destined to lose in a Glorious Cause, but that won't stop us from throwing ourselves into the fight with all we've got.

The Left has sharply over-reached with their insistence on legalizing abortion until birth (or, even a smidge later). They are making it impossible to stay on the fence about this issue. And, unlike the earlier fight to loosen abortion restrictions, this time the culture is tipping against the Pro-Aborts. Those who've come to regret an abortion choice have access to healing ministries - most notably, Project Rachel, which helps women wrestling with pain after their abortion to find healing. Contrary to the image of the Catholic Church as judgmental and hostile to those who've had an abortion, this ministry is strongly supported.

Younger women are LESS likely to support abortion than their mothers. According to a CBS poll, 72% of women from 18 to 35 are supportive of at least some abortion restrictions.

Don't count us out in GA or AL. We may lose, but the other side will know they've been in a hellava fight. And, the fact is, even if we lose, we may win - in the hearts and minds of people.


Francis W. Porretto said...

-- (almost 1/3 of those brought up in the New Southern cities are nearly completely ignorant of ANY religion) --

There is a strong correlation between urbanization and a decline of interest in religion. It's worth further investigation.

Glenda T Goode said...

While religious belief is manifest in southern society I believe the notion of 'respect' is the fundamental core of the southern ethos.

My mom was a Virginian who was transplanted to northern NY and yet, she always kept her genteel ways. I had the fortune as a young adult to travel with her to her home town in VA and visit the extended family that still resided in the area. I was struck at how open and friendly they were. I had a chance to travel about the state while I was there and found that this was not unique to any specific area.

I grew up in red state New York and it is a far cry from the community that exists south of the Mason Dixon line. While we have a sense of respect and community here, it could learn a lot from the traditions of the south.

I am glad you found a home in South Carolina and that you have seen and embraced the values that make life in the south such that it is. The religious beliefs of the south strengthen the society.

The migration of refugees from northern blue controlled states is a reflection upon the lack of respect and civility here in the north. The move from a home and heritage in the north and relocating in the south is not an easy thing to do. To leave family and heritage behind and relocate can be a daunting and difficult thing. Assimilation into a new community and the different values challenges those differences that the re-locatee has with the new prevailing norms. Time will even out the differences. Respect will allow things to pass peacefully and that despite any disagreements people will live peacefully together.