Four hundred years ago, we sailed west, and here, met our kin who had moved east long before that. Upon landing, there was great celebration, but the camaraderie was short-lived; the long separation had turned many hearts to flint and within fifteen years, the first of the twenty-seven wars began.
After all this time, there is still a divide that separates the blue tribes and the reds. Small skirmishes flare up often and the opposing tribes have gradually separated to camps and cities scattered through the land. After four centuries, it’s difficult to tell your red relatives from your blues and I would not choose between two wrongs. I’ve, also, never been accustomed to the babble and chatter of the cities and camps, so I lived off the land between the camps and became a seeder.
There are other seeders like me; we ride between the camps, bringing books, sharing seeds and small deeds of compassion, giving credit to a neighboring camp. Our goal, perhaps impossible, is to bring the tribes back together. Mostly, we are seen as dreamers; naïve, harmless, like artists and poets. There are those that view us as gypsies, or perhaps spies of some vast conspiracy, so vigilance is always our watchword. When I meet other riders traveling between the camps, I have a cautious word with them, until I can be sure that they are seeders also. We never gather in groups; we pass short messages to one another about our progress, and where we have seen sparks of understanding.
We are not here to gain merit; most of us fell into this role when we were still quite young. We will ride until these tribes become one again. We don’t expect to be leaders of a new tribe; the seeders are a loose affiliation. My English ancestors sailed the tall ship, Mayflower; my Patawomeck ancestors paddled the poplarwood canoe on the river, Rappahannock. There are no enemies for me, only family, to share thanks giving.
After Pearl Harbor, my father enlisted in the Navy to fight Fascism. On December 11, 1942, his ship, USS SCOTT was torpedoed, and sunk off the coast of Africa during the Allied invasion of French North Africa. The torpedo hit the Starboard side; the ship burst into flames and foundered, but owing to the availability of landing craft for rescue, casualties were limited to 59 men. My father was a landing craft pilot. He was only 17 that day.
Now, Fascism was too big a word for a 16 year old Virginia farm boy with a sixth grade education, but he knew it by its true names. He knew the bully harming weaker folks, too young or too old to stop them; the bigot hating the “coloreds” and the “come-heres”; the big man belittling women and treating them as chattel; the straw boss rewarding his buddies; the revivalist bathing in the baptismal font with a gifted jug of bootleg whiskey, before launching into an hour of fiery brimstone, and eternity in the sky. Yeah, fascism was one o’ them two dollar words, and where he was raised, and where I was raised, life, all life was precious and was not ours to rule or roll over.
Here we are, nearly 80 years later, still fighting Fascism; we just have to VOTE.