I was an eight-grader when I read my first historical romance novel. It was Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. It had been recommended to me by my social studies teacher, Ms. Gebhart. We'd been studying the American Civil War. I can't remember the comment I made which prompted her to say, "You really should read Gone With the Wind."
I read that novel all day and into the night, with a flashlight under the covers in my room. I had to know what would become of Rhett and Scarlett. When I finished the book, I still didn't know for certain whether Rhett and Scarlett would someday be together forever, but there was one thing I did learn undoubtedly: Mitchell's descriptions of Sherman's March on the South and even her take on the origin of the Ku Klux Klan, were not in any of the history books I was reading currently in my social studies class. I'd had my first encounter with a different political point of view. History was not the clear cut, inarguable case of "the good guys versus the bad guys" I'd been exposed to in my education up until then. And I knew that in order to formulate a political opinion that was not simply a parroting of what my teachers or politicans dictated, I'd have to seek more information on my own.
Whether I agreed with Mitchell's perspective or not, is not the point. What is the point is that she presented to me for the first time the idea that even the people on the other side of a conflict have feelings, families and loves, just like the 'good guys' do. While this illumination didn't make my life simpler, certainly, it made me more responsible. Before I listen to what any pundit says about going to war, protecting our security, defeating terrorism, etc, I'd better be sure I debate all the angles and think about all of the possible fallouts from that decision.
I don't know who I should thank for that clarity- Ms. Mitchell,the author of a romance novel, or Ms Gebhart, my eight-grade social studies teacher.
Causes Patricia Davis Supports
Make-A-Wish International, Girls Inc. The Palermo Protocols, Amnesty International, Valley of the Moon Children's Shelter, Brenda Novak's Online Auction for...