Sean South: Okay

Today I read an article that my friend sent me. The article was something that went viral on social media. When I finished reading it, I felt so bad that I had to take some Pepto Bismol and lie down.

It was frustrating. The writer complained about almost everything. Politics, religion, pollution, crime, taxes, pesticides, SUVs, pop stars, the price of gas.

Worse still, thousands of people agreed that this world was a terrible place.

Well, who am I to say it isn’t? Nobody, that’s who. However, all this reading made me ask myself an important question:

What about chocolate?

Could this world be so bad as long as we have milk chocolate? Have you ever had a Hershey bar when it was room temperature? It’s a little soft, and tastes sweeter than the Gaither Homecoming DVD.

It’s hard not to believe that everything will be okay while eating chocolate.

What about pimento cheese? Has the writer ever tried homemade pimento cheese? If he doesn’t, he should. Today, my wife just made a new batch. I took one bite and started shaking my legs like Elvis at a party.

What about daylilies? Or peony? Or tulips? The summer colors are almost overwhelming. Pink peony is reason enough to believe that life is good.

There are also the mysterious things in life. Things so beautiful that they are difficult to name because they are so vast, so huge, so sad. Namely, I’m talking about beer.

Have you ever tasted a Budweiser after spending an afternoon mowing your lawn? Mowing grass in the heat is brutal and will make even the strongest person weak. But suddenly, your wife comes in with a beer cold enough to break your teeth. She gives you a beer and says “Thank you, honey. Thank you for mowing our lawn.”

How about singing all night at church? I don’t know if you’ve ever been to one of those places, and I don’t even know if people still do them.

Maybe young people don’t know what I’m talking about. But long before Sunday morning rock bands, there was all-night singing in the country.

We didn’t really sing all night, of course. But we sang until ten or eleven-thirty. We were singing old songs. Such as: “Down by the Riverside”, “In the Sweet By and By” and all 50 verses of “Rock of Ages”.

Did the author of the article see an old man dancing with his granddaughter at a wedding? I do not think so.

Last week I went to a friend’s reception at a seafood restaurant. I saw an old man enter the dance floor with a nine-year-old girl who had her hair in braids. The song was “You’re So Beautiful.” Niagara Falls.

What about the Gulf of Mexico? Doesn’t the article even mention that?

I am a producer from the Gulf Coast. There is something magical within our water. Something so incredible that it transcends space and time. Do you think I’m exaggerating?

Here’s what a foreign language professor once told me:

Hundreds of years ago, when the Choctaw Indians still lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, they had a word in their language. It was a short speech.

It was a great word, a happy word, a kind of useful word you could use in all kinds of scenarios. The word was “okay.”

Missionaries loved the word from the beginning. After they learned to speak the mother tongue, they started using the word “okeh” all the time. They even began to use it instead of “amen.”

And so, while missionaries were busy teaching the Choctaw natives not to drink, swear, or touch World magazines, the word “okeh” crept into the English language.

Missionaries began writing this word in their diaries and Bibles and writing it on postcards sent home. Since there was no official spelling for this new word, they shortened it:


Over time, the word became a huge hit. Today, that is still the case. It is the most used word in the world. It is used in one hundred and ninety-five countries and nearly six thousand languages.

six thousand.

And just think, it all started right here in the Southeastern Conference. Maybe even within sight of the Gulf of Mexico.

Who knows, maybe the original guy who invented the word was the one who sat in my childhood backyard. Or maybe he sat on the beach. Maybe he looked out at the Gulf of Mexico and remembered all the wonderful things in life. Things like wildflowers, children’s laughter, clouds, pasta, saturated fats, and the “cha-cha slice.”

sunrise. the trees. children. Old men dancing at weddings with their granddaughters. And love.

Perhaps the Choctaw citizen thought about these things and declared to himself that this world was not so bad after all.

Maybe he’s decided that no matter what kind of hell breaks loose, no matter what the newspapers say, no matter what viral articles claim, everything – and I mean everything – will be “OK.”

Maybe what we all need is more chocolate.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the founder of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please email your name and contact information to

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    (tags for translation)Alabama News

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