I was joking yesterday with my coworkers about #FirstWorldProblems, as I was going to have to complete today’s to-do list on a small screen at home instead of my large monitor at work.
I didn’t think much of it at the time. But lying in bed this morning, ignoring my alarm clock and thinking about Designing America (my newest novel-in-the-making, of which I just finished the first draft this week), it hit me how significant my supposed silliness actually was.
You see, my next step since finishing my rough draft hasn’t been to edit. It’s been to go through my historical highlights and notes to make sure I’ve gotten key details and dates correct. And those highlights and notes, details and dates spell out a nearly overwhelming amount of pain.
The Revolutionary War was a miserable time period for those who had to live through it.
I mean absolutely horrific. The Brits were really quite rotten to the Americans.
That’s no offense to the British at large any more than it’s an approval of Americans at large. Any true student of history recognizes that there isn’t a perfect people out there. We’re all capable of committing atrocities, and we too often run with that potential.
Moreover, during the course of the Revolutionary War – as I flat-out state in Maiden America (the prequel to Designing America) – the Americans behaved pretty darn badly a time or two as well.
Yet with that all said, in my very detailed research, I never once came across a story of American soldiers ripping open pregnant women, or crowding thousands of prisoners of war onto ships to let them rot away for weeks or months under the most inhumane conditions, knowing full well they’d die. (Many went insane first.) Those brutalities fall squarely on the British back then.
For kicks and giggles, I watched The Patriot on Sunday; which, yes, is filled with historical inaccuracies. Considering how that movie and Designing America share the same bad guy, I found myself shaking my head and rolling my eyes over and over again.
But that wasn’t what stood out most to me. What stood out most were the battle scenes, where men’s heads were blown off. Their legs shattered. Their stomachs skewered by bayonets.
Because all of that? That really happened.
Even when that wasn’t going on, those soldiers starved more often than not. They got little to no pay. And after the war, they barely got a thanks from a citizenry that was too often thrilled to celebrate victories but apathetic or downright hostile about providing anything else.
Black and white, free and slave, young and old, rich and poor, male and female: Those “rebels” gave their time, their fortunes, their well-being, comfort and very lives…
The result is that I can laugh about #FirstWorldProblems.
For all of those sacrifices back then and my security today, I am truly grateful.