Lee and Jackson make me a better man.
When I ponder some imprudent action or am tempted to give in to vice, I can imagine General Jackson's disappointment in my behaviors. An orphan by age five and a widower early in his adulthood, probably no more than 1% of the population had as rough a life as Thomas Jonathan Jackson. Almost no one in American history accomplished as much. Jackson's prodigious feats of self-denial and self-discipline as well as his deep piety led to his successes.
Inspiration from Stonewall Jackson's life makes me want to be more disciplined and have a deeper faith.
When I am unkind or think ill of someone, particularly anyone in my family, I feel the spirit of Robert E. Lee gently remonstrating me to be more charitable. A kind and loving man, devoted to his wife and children, stories of Lee's humility and magnanimity are numerous. I've read most of his letters, kept and published after his death by one of his sons, and his humanity shines through them all.
Inspiration from Robert E. Lee's life makes me a gentler person.
Since all things are viewed these days through the distorting lens of Social Justice, I'll add this quote from another of my inspirations.
Booker T. Washington, America’s great African-American educator, wrote in 1910, “The first white people in America, certainly the first in the South to exhibit their interest in the reaching of the Negro and saving his soul through the medium of the Sunday school were Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”I knew that about Jackson, but I did not know that about Lee. In fact, while in the field with the Confederate Army, Jackson made sure that a portion of his pay was sent to maintain the Bible school he and his second wife had established and led for local slaves. Working through his own metanoia on the subject, Jackson figured that while slavery would always be with us, he would do what he could to see that the black slaves would be his equals in paradise.
Yes, I could have chosen other inspirations, but then I'd be a different person. Jackson and Lee work perfectly for me. Maybe someday, I'll take down those "problematic" photos and put up pictures of Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres. Everyone will then agree that I am filled with virtue.
And on that day, I'll chuck the whole self-improvement thing. After all, that's the chief benefit of being Socially Conscious - the ability to fantasize about what a great person you are while not actually doing a blasted thing.
|"I'm so disappointed in KT, Thomas. He was unkind to his wife."|
"Indeed, Robert. He also blew off the gym this morning."