Besides the very good friends we have there, one of the things I loved the most about Charleston was the homes. The houses. The old, old, old houses.
We lived on Meeting Street, one of the main drags in downtown Charleston. The back part of our home was built in 1796, as I recall. It was a great place. But in the winter time, it was the coldest house I’ve ever lived in. You could feel “the wind some sweeping down the plains” … ..… not in Oklahoma, but in your very own kitchen.
Nonetheless. As you walk up and down the streets of Charleston, it is very apparent that each one of these houses has a story. Every kitchen, every courtyard, every family. Some of the stories are more captivating than others.
I’ll just pick one at random. 37 Meeting Street. James Simmons built this house around 1760. It was occupied by the British during the Revolution. Those Brits did plenty of damage to it before moving on.
Then, during the Civil War, the house became headquarters for General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, the commander of the Confederate forces in Charleston. This guy Beauregard, was a pretty-boy with jet-black hair. But apparently, he had to dye it that way. As such, he had to take special measures… getting the dye shipped in through the harbor. Or some deal like that.
But there are other stories too. Like the local legend that there is buried treasure in the backyard. Pirate Booty. Seriously. People have dug around in that backyard looking for it. And of course, the ghost stories in this place abound. An awful lot of different owners have given accounts of the same types of “sightings” at this old house. First the Booty. Then the Boo.
When it sold in 2009, the Simmons House established a new price record on the Charleston peninsula – $8 million.
So that is just one little front door out of many.
As I was washing dishes tonight, I thought of a different place though. It too, was on Meeting Street. A grand and beautiful home at one point. But while we were there, we saw it go through a neglectful decline. The result of a nasty divorce. The walls began to crumble, the weeds took over the piazza, the paint began to peel, the pool evolved into a muck pit. The interior was fraught with dilapidation, and disrepair.
The thing of it was… the emotions… the hatred that resulted from this broken relationship became apparent in the physical appearance of this beautiful and very grand home. The house turned ugly, just like the divorce. Just like the people.
That is how hatred works. It consumes. It takes over. Hatred turns the most beautiful things into complete and utter atrocities.
Hatred results from fear, from misunderstanding, from lack of knowing. From the inability to commiserate. During any conflict, or misapprehension, or disagreement, we need to be able to understand the suffering on all sides. Not just our own. We need to be open to helping the situation. Through compassion.
We might think it is better to take sides, to win the war, to overcome. But in fact, it might be better if we could understand the hurt, the pain, the adversity, that all sides are feeling.
Through all of history, humans have used wars, and fighting, to settle differences. Ugly hatred.
I think we are doing it wrong.
I like the beautiful homes, instead.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
― Albert Einstein
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
― Gautama Buddha