Thursday, November 27, 2008

An alternative view of thanksgiving

One of the blogs I follow (jesusmanifesto) has a great post about Thanksgiving (since today is that illustrious holiday in the US).
In the interest of stirring up something, and because we as Canadians haven't been much different, I want to repeat some of it here. Feel free to read it in its entirety here.

"American Myth-Making

Thanksgiving Day conjures up a happy myth about pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down and sharing a roast turkey and a veritable cornucopia of tasty treats. It is a story of survival. The starving Europeans settled in an inhospitable land, and, on the brink of starvation, found hospitality from locals. Through honest work and tenacity, the colonists survived and were able to build a great nation, occupying this great Free Land that is a beacon of light to a dark world.

It is a day where we honor our founding principles of sharing, kinship, and hard work. It is a day when we give thanks for our blessings. The blessings granted to us by our benevolent God who has decided to lay upon our strong backs the mantle of abundance and affluence. These things, we all know, must not be taken lightly. We must receive them with gratitude. And, in times like these we must express our gratitude by sharing with those less fortunate. After all, we are beacons of light.

Or, stripped of all of the propaganda and hypocrisy, we can tell the story this way:

Pilgrims came to this nation looking for a place filled with opportunities. Some came for religious freedom. Some came to start over. But all came with the hopes of prosperity. Upon arriving, the pilgrims found an abandoned village which soon became their own settlement. It was hard work building a new life. Their Protestant work ethic wasn’t enough to carry them through. Thankfully, they made friends with a local who already spoke English (Squanto) because he had learned the language while serving as a slave to colonists elsewhere. Squanto helped these pilgrims survive.

As time passed, the settlers formed an uneasy peace with the Wampanoag nearby.
. At that time, the Wampanoag numbered at least 12,000–and were probably even more numerous in earlier days. But in the years that followed, they were almost wiped out. They, like many other peoples, suffered the genocide of white Christians who longed to fulfill their Manifest Destiny. As their numbers increased, the Native population decreased. Our “blessings” came at great price for those who previously occupied these lands.

In the words of the American folk classic:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

I’m not sure that everyone in the USA can sing these words with joy in their hearts. It isn’t just leftist rhetoric to say that our abundant blessings have grown up from stolen lands that were harvested, in large part, by stolen labor."

Well said, Mark, well said.

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