Civil War—CoronaLife Day 369

In the year 1292, Scotland had a problem: it had no direct heir to the throne. There were multiple claimants, but how to choose between them? King Edward I of England, who desired to claim Scotland as his own, kindly offered to choose between the claimants, and promptly chose the one who would swear fealty to him, making Edward overlord of both England and Scotland, with Scotland in the subservient condition.

This caused more problems. King John Balliol, Edward’s pick, was disliked by a large portion of the population because they were furious that Scotland had been handed to her hereditary enemy. But Scotland was full of Anglo-Norman nobles, who held land in both countries and therefore wanted the merger. So a double war broke out.

The Scottish Wars of Independence, headed first by William Wallace, then by the future King Robert the Bruce, mirrored America’s Revolution in many ways. But it also held a second war inside the first, because the nobles who wanted England to rule were also fighting the Scottish armies who were fighting for their freedom. Many a noble family was torn apart by these wars. Robert Bruce himself fought WITH the English before finally switching to the Scottish side and rising to King. Within noble families, father and son often fought on opposite sides, such as the Earl of Strathearn fighting with Edward of England and getting captured in battle by his own son. Which was lucky for the Earl, since his son begged mercy for his father of Robert Bruce and thus saved his father’s life.

Scotland won her freedom, although she did eventually merge with England when the Scottish King James the VI inherited the throne of England to become King James I of England in 1603. Today, Scotland is semi-autonomous, with its own Parliament, and a movement is growing to vote to break from England completely. This time, any break with England will be significantly less bloody, and hopefully peaceful, leaving families intact.

We in America have heard of the family fractures in our Civil War, with brother fighting against brother. Like Scotland and England, the warring sides came together afterwards.

The past 4 years, with Trump in office, we have seen the outbreak of civil strife again. Families once again fractured, and old national scars burst wide open. I have to wonder if, unlike Scotland and England, we never did really heal from the Civil War, and instead just buried the old resentments to fester. The same questions seem to be raised now as then: Who holds the power in America? When it says “We the people,” does it mean the rich, or all of us? What does freedom mean in America? When it says “all men are created equal” exactly which men does it mean? The questions of justice and equality and equity are as stark now as they were in 1861, even if the context looks different.

I admit that some days the American divide depresses me. I so clearly see two Americas inside the same borders, and I despair that we can live together, the ideas held are so different. But other days, I read history and I see the bloody conflicts that tore countries and families apart, and see eventual peace and hope. Maybe, someday, historians will look back at this epoch of American life and be able to say that our country managed to heal and move forward together, knitting the wounds closed once and for all.

The story of whether we remain the United States, or whether we evolve peacefully into separate but allied nations is yet unwritten. We each have our part in history to play. Choose your path wisely.

The future is watching us.

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