July 4th 2022
Happy Independence Day my friends. I really planned to write something encouraging after my last post on Dissociative Identity Disorder. That is a difficult and unpleasant subject to discuss but that is all the more reason for us to have a conversation about it. So I retract nothing and will not apologize for offending some of you with weaker constitutions. Where is the outrage at the people who abused the innocents to create this uncomfortable subject? With that being said I am afraid today’s post is not gonna be all America with baseball, Cracker Jacks, and apple pie.
Blame Bill Burr and the Thursday after Monday Morning Podcast. He is supposed to make me laugh and not think too deeply about things but he failed this past week. I had already been thinking about the 11 billion dollar industry that is America’s prison system so when he brought up how it took Texas 2 years to tell their slaves they were free and that a whole slew of laws were created at the end of the civil war so they would still have a labor force that didn’t cost a dime. Well it did cost them a bit of profit to feed and house the “animals’ but that couldn’t be helped the robot age was still a century and a half away. Well it kind of pissed me off.
These are dirty secrets like DID that are uncomfortable and people, especially white people, don’t want to discuss. I am not a proponent of punishing people today for the crimes done by their ancestors but I am a big fan of sincerely apologizing for the wrongs done by a great great great grandfather, and an even bigger fan of forgiving the family who had done the other family wrong.
To make this even more personal I want to share this anecdote. I took the Ancestry DNA test two years ago and was blessed to find my birth father and mother (not together). My father had traced our lineage to the actual Mayflower and over to England going back to the 1300’s. I was quite disappointed to find out I wasn’t American Indian as the adoption records had said I was. I had always taken pride and based my tan and squinty eyes on that lineage. I quickly bounced back from that news when I learned one of my all time favorite historical characters was a great great great uncle, the legendary Daniel Boone. Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, the grammy award winning flatpicking and fingerstyle skills are among the best to ever pick up a guitar. In fact current bluegrass phenom Billy Strings said it’s because of Doc that he does what he does. I only share this to show the contrast of also being a family that once owned slaves. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
So my dad told me this as we walked around the Caton Cemetery near Millersburg, Ohio. It was said with sadness and shame and I could tell my father wasn’t a racist and saw this as a mark on the family history. I of course felt the very same shame.
Fast forward about 18 months and I am on my way to work on a mural in Indiana. I had met the person who had picked me up once before at a music festival but hadn’t really talked. He is big psychedelic teddy bear who also happens to be a black man. I have never been racist and have always been taught that Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, Yellow , Black, and White. If Jesus loved them, so did I.
We jammed out to Ekoostik Hookah and had been enjoying the drive when my mind wandered to this subject. I went down the rabbit hole of “generational curses’ , and the sins of the father shall be visited upon their sons, and their sons sons “Even though I was adopted and really had nothing to do with that family” I silently asked God or whoever else might able to pick up on my unspoken thoughts.
“Yes” Was the general consensus of the voices in my head. So I took a deep breath and started to speak. I told my friend about being adopted, finding my bio dad, and about us owning slaves. It was super weird and I could tell my friend didn’t know what to make of this. I was crying by this point. I felt the shame of every Caton who came before me. I felt the guilt of the original slave owners. It broke my heart that my kin could be so thoughtless as to not regard another human as little more than personal property. We may have been “good” slave owners my father had mentioned…I remember thinking if there was such a thing. I know what he meant and he only meant that maybe we treated them with kindness and made them part of the family. While that is better its still not what i would call good. . Just because everyone else said it was ok, the law of God is written on the hearts of all men and I firmly believe that at the beginning they knew it was wrong. They justified it somehow but they knew I am sure.
I don’t remember what my friend said. I like to think he forgave my family and thus setting himself free from the bondage of an unforgiving heart. I think once I apologized the curse was halfway broken and that if he forgave me then our family karma was cleansed. I’m not sure how any of this works to be honest. I used to think I knew but lately my whole belief system has been rocked. I’m not quite prepared to go into all of that but I think Independence Day is a good day to examine yourself to see if your truly free or is it possible your holding onto something that is preventing you from experiencing all this world has to offer. I didn’t expect this article to head this direction at all. I was prepared to go dark with some other facts but I think this is where I stop for today. Today is a day to celebrate. July 5th is the day we get back to work. The real work began after the declaration of independence. I intend to show you that we have much work ahead of ourselves if we still wish to be free. Thank you for reading my thoughts and I pray that you and your families have a wonderful day filled with laughter, hugs, and lots of apple pie.