At my Uncle Sam’s place in rural Monroe County, Mississippi, I witnessed my first hog killin’. It was on a cold day in January and I was about eight or nine years old. My Uncle shot the hog between the eyes with a .22 rifle and then the process of cleaning, gutting, and carving up the animal began. Though the men handled most of the heavy work, the women were there to assist. I’m convinced that women, because of certain natural processes God has made unique to them, are not as squeamish about blood as some men are.
So when our ancestors—and those today who still live to some degree like their ancestors, whether by choice or necessity—wanted meat to eat, they usually had to kill it and dress it before actually cooking and consuming it. Bloodshed was involved from the start. Today, most moderns get their meat from the supermarket, all nicely packaged and ready to cook. Most people couldn’t stomach even the killing of a chicken, by wringing its neck or chopping it off with a hatchet, something that my grandparents, aunts, and uncles found so commonplace.
Now, I don’t claim to be a pioneer, and I do very much like some of the modern conveniences God in His great mercy has bestowed upon us. But there does need to be a balance between the old ways and the new ones. Too much blood, death, and dying is what man has been trying for ages to escape. In the words of Thomas Hobbes, life for most has always been “nasty, brutish, and short.” However, we can escape and take ourselves too far to the other extreme, forgetting in the process that we live in a fallen, sinful world and must learn to deal with the hardness of life.
So after the bloody, cold, and tiring work of butchering a hog was done, we feasted—and we appreciated it. There was bloodshed, and as a result of it there was a good life for a country family. And you hadn’t had good pork until you’d had it cooked medium rare over my Uncle’s outdoor pit! You could do that with mast-fed hogs you raised and slaughtered yourself; however, don’t try it with industrial pork, a product of modern American agribusiness.
The modern world has tried its best to sanitize blood, death, and dying. In many instances, it is only to be faced by “professionals” trained for the job. Thus, it has put a buffer between us and the gory processes of what constituted everyday life, or at least very common occurrences for our more hardy ancestors.
While there are modern professions that bring their practitioners into routine contact with blood, death, and dying—soldiers, police officers, emergency workers, doctors and nurses, and the ubiquitous undertakers—most serve rather to isolate us from the natural world of daily bloodshed so normal to those in bygone eras. And, in my opinion, too much isolation from this is to our detriment.
Modern man, in his urban or suburban environment, is unnaturally squeamish about blood and death. Sure, he sees it in the movies, on the TV news, and on YouTube, and his children play at it for hours daily on gratuitously violent video games, but he rarely sees it—and smells the iron stink of it–in real life as did his ancestors. And there is a difference.
A few years ago a friend died and was buried the old-fashioned way—in a pine box with no undertaker or hearse present. This is the way our ancestors dealt with that facet of life. Today, we put an embalmed, heavily made-up corpse into an expensive coffin, which is then closed up and put into an air-tight vault to await Judgment Day. Or we cremate them and put their nice dry ashes on the mantelpiece. Not for me, thanks. I prefer to be buried like my friend, and that means keeping me away from undertakers and all the unnecessary fuss and expense of the modern, sanitized funeral racket. Let my body return to the dust and fertilize God’s green earth and let my surviving friends and relations use the funeral money for a party. To my sensibilities this is much less morbid than the unnatural process we now call a funeral. Modern man shudders at the thought of becoming food for the worms, and naturally so I suppose. But we are told we will return to the dust from which we were created!
Modern military and police service is another area that has walled off the average person from blood, death, and dying. Dependence on the “authorities” to do violence in our name or seemingly for our protection has emasculated modern American men. We are told that violence is the prerogative of The Authorities, and that we are not properly trained and conditioned to handled violent situations ourselves. The result of this mindset has been a self-fulfilling prophecy; men believe a resort to violence is uncivilized and that it should be left to the authorities. Then we are surprised when men (especially those outside the South and in urban areas) are unable and unwilling to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their property.
But the willingness of men, civilians, to do violence in defense of their communities and of decency itself has historically been a cornerstone of Western civilization. There are bad men who would take everything you have if they didn’t fear death or serious injury in the process. And they understand that when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.
Modern governments, especially those of multicultural states and empires, do not want weapons in the hands of a trained and proficient citizenry. They prefer the men of their societies, at least those who are not serving in their law enforcement/military units, to be disarmed both physically and psychologically. They like it when the thought of blood, death, and dying makes you squirm.
But in death there is life. In fact, real love always ends in bloodshed. From the warrior who throws himself on top of a grenade to save his buddies; to a mother who dies giving birth to her child; and to God who saved His people from sin and death by sacrificing His only begotten son on the cross. The civilization of our forefathers was built on the firm foundation that blood, death, and dying were part of God’s plan for a sinful, fallen world and its redemption. Can we really call ourselves men after God’s own image if we shrink like cowards from this fundamental reality? I think not. Instead, let us bravely accept the fact that the Creation is a bloody one in which death and dying is a part of life and living. And let us also be thankful that God, in His goodness and mercy, has mitigated some of the “nasty, brutish, and short” aspects of life.