Thanksgiving is a dichotomy. In my mind it represents the best and the worst that this country has to offer. I’ve read the journals of Squanto, and William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Plantation. The “pilgrims” and the native people really did live in a sort of symbiosis, and there really was a three day long harvest festival when they celebrated together the bounty that they had both worked to reap. They respected and cared for each other, shared hunting tips, lived in one another’s settlements without strife, and maintained their incredibly harmonious coexistence until Bradford and Massasoit, the chief of the Pokanoket died. That ability to live and work together, to benefit from each other’s knowledge, and to embrace the unknown in order to survive… those are the things that can make America great, and at it’s core… that was the first “thanksgiving.”
unfortunately, however, at the same time, there were other English who were kidnapping, selling, and inadvertently massacring hundreds of thousands with disease and wanton disregard. In short, they were doing what conquering nations do, which is not right, but seems to be inevitable. It is a shame that both sides tend to be forgotten… depending on the agenda. That time period, like America, is full of truths and contradictions it shows the strength and courage of humanity, the desire to conquer of humankind, the honest desire to “love thy brother as thyself,” the inherent need to put “thyself” above all else, and the desire of all living beings to just find a safe place to call home. In short, like America, it’s beautiful, tragic, and wholly misunderstood by most who celebrate it.
I choose to celebrate the good, and yet, to remember the bad, indeed, how could one ever forget. It is truly devastating to think of an aspect of my heritage, two NATIONS of people who no longer exist as a result of the colonization of this land. It is also terrifying to think what may have happened had no one possessed the courage to defy King James… what kind of world would that be?? But it is heartening to think of the brotherhood, love, respect, and peaceful coexistence that truly did ensue as a result of that first “thanksgiving.” that, to me, is the heart of us all, and remembering gives me hope, even if it is only a fool’s hope.
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