The majority of my ancestors arrived in the United States after the Civil War. So I don't have the family ties that can cloud views of the "War of Northern Aggression."
But I spent three years working in Georgetown, S.C. - probably the area hardest hit by the end of slavery. Rice cultivation ruled that area's economy in the 1840s. Many whites became extremely wealthy on the back of their slaves.
Family have pride in their ancestors, in their heritage. Over 150 years later, how to do correlate love of past generations with our knowledge of the pain they caused?
Mostly, we fight. Southerners emphasize their families and the strong characteristics of the struggle - the military, the courage of individual soldiers in the field who held off a foe with superior logistical support. Opponents point to slavery - how do you defend that? Can't you see people are people?
Today, we face a choice about our fiscal future. Democrats are fighting against "Paul Ryan's aggression."
Ryan has looked at the budget numbers, and sees - like slavery - a system that can not last in its present form.
But partisans on the other side not only believe it can last, but is the way to do things. Ryan's plan will harm their lives, and the lives of those they care about.
Decisions made today will impact how future generations look at us. Questions we struggle with will become clear with time and events.
Like the south of the 1860s, we'll be judged by people of the future - who will be harmed or helped by what we do today.