An Anti-War Gem from "Gone With the Wind"
Finding gems where you least expect them is always a pleasant surprise! Caroline and I began reading Margaret Mitchell’s classic work Gone With the Wind a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sure what to think going in. Right now we are about 250 pages in and I’m really enjoying the book, Mitchell’s prose is unbelievable and just rolls off the tongue like few writers I’ve encountered.
When we were reading the other night I came across a portion of dialogue that I thought was simply amazing. Rhett Butler is one of the main characters in the story and he is a blockade runner in the Confederacy. The reader comes to find that Rhett does not at all care for the Confederate “cause,” but rather is only happy to make a profit by running his boats filled with merchandise past the Union naval blockades.
Rhett gives a speech to Scarlett (the main character) about how he does not care about the war and refuses to be a sucker to war propaganda in general. I was taken aback as I was reading it because I found it so insightful and I would have never expected to find such a thing in a Southern book about the Civil War. Here’s the quotation:
All wars are sacred to those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn't make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles. But so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of bugles and drums and fine words from stay-at-home orators. Sometimes the rallying cry is 'Save the Tomb of Christ from the Heathen!' Sometimes it's 'Down with Popery!' and sometimes 'Liberty!' and sometimes 'Cotton, slavery, and States' Rights!' (pg. 230)
Especially in today’s climate where we seem to be increasingly okay with war, Rhett Butler’s words are music to the ears. It always strikes me as odd that those who are so adamant about being duped by the government never stop to think that the government could be duping them when it comes to war. If you listen to the rhetoric about Israel then it is so clear the way that we attempt to make war sacred in our own day as well.
I certainly wasn’t expecting to find this thought-provoking gem in Gone With the Wind but I’m glad I did!
Food for thought.