I am not a native southerner. I was born in Ohio and grew up there half my childhood days - in "Middle America" (why it's called that I don't know - it's not in the middle of the country geographically.) And, I also grew up later in Maryland. Yes, Maryland is just south of the Mason-Dixon line so it is considered "southern" when lumped into a category...but it's also a part of that great East Coast urban sprawl mega-city (DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston.) Maryland certainly has some wonderful, unique features but it doesn't have a lot of what I think of as typical southern customs and a way of life.
I have learned to love a lot about living in a true southern state, the state of South Carolina. In fact this morning I was walking on the beach with 3 lady friends and we talked about the absolute beauty of the area - the marshes, the ocean, the sea birds, and other creatures on land and in the air. We all felt this was such a little hidden gem. It's a place to be able to sit back, and to enjoy nature, and to commune with God... and keep life in perspective. The pace is slower. In fact we were out walking as part of a team of volunteers who come out to the beach early each morning to look for loggerhead turtle tracks on the sand. It's the start of the season for the mamas to come to shore to lay their eggs by the dunes, and we help find them & protect them. (Another post will go into more detail soon.)
People of the south have a real respect for nature. The waterways are kept pristine and beautiful. The pine forest areas are preserved. I have lived a lot of places and South Carolina is a gorgous part of the world!
So.... here's my one "problem" I have with life here in the south - and it's certainly a big deal here (and I suppose in all other southern states too.) It's the love affair with guns and with hunting. Now, I understand historically how important owning a gun was - for protection and for getting food. Life was different than it is now. But the gun mentality has not changed. People still go hunting (when meat can be easily bought at the local grocery store). It is a "sport." It is taught to young children. People boast about killing innocent animals. They smear blood on themselves and take pictures. They present guns as gifts. They dress in camoflauge and hide - and then bait the deer or other animals to be killed. They think it's fun!
Now, I know I bring up many issues.... gun use, gun safety, gun availability, killing for sport, animal cruelty, man vs. animal, freedoms, and more. I know a true southerner doesn't see a conflict in loving this beautiful land - and shooting the creatures that live here.
This morning's newspaper had another "accidental" shooting of a child because a loaded gun was left where the child could get to it. I don't know.... it just seems so senseless. So stupid. So sad.
What are people thinking? Does the "right" to own a gun mean we should just accept that these accidents will happen?
How can we love the land, but yet act savagely at times - and call it a sport? And teach it?
I know hunting is something that is handed down, from dad to son. Around here it's big business too. It's part of the "country package".... country music, beer, guns. A few of the country singers are in ads for the NRA, and Luke Bryan is the spokesman for a big hunting merchandise company.
So, although...believe me, I love the south - I love the climate, the beauty, the slower pace, the music, the pride - I will never understand the desire to hunt. I know this post will upset some friends, and even some family, but it's how I feel. I put the subject out there to think about... to consider WHY you do it...and if owning guns and if killing animals is really something you consider a good thing. I don't.