In years past, at least the last six years, I have spent part of Thanksgiving on FaceBook. Not this year. Today, for me, is a day of peace, rest, and reflection as it should be for us all. We should hold our peace on all subjects that cause strife. We should rest from our battles. We should reflect upon exactly why this country was founded.
All too many of us forget that the Pilgrims, those purveyors of Puritanism, came to this land so that they might worship in the manner that they wished, without the meddling or the governments of Europe. We forget that the world at that time only allowed one to follow, without harassment, one of two “Christian” religions. The Catholic church and the Church of England suppressed all forms of Protestant beliefs, calling them-openly-heresy. Many sects were massacred on the continent without the privilege of a trial by jury simply because they were seen as heretical and the church thought that they needed to be stamped out. The Church of England, England’s answer to the Catholic Church in every way except its being run by the king, was no better toward Protestant churches…the Puritans included. Thus, they came to this continent for the sole purpose of freedom. This religious freedom, however, did not extend to all. It seems that all were free to worship as they pleased within the colonies as long as they worshiped as the Puritans did.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back track a bit and delve a bit deeper into the motives of the king that allowed the move. After all, he had a reason, or a series of reasons, to allow the colonization.
Gold, timber, riches–these drove every European empire and England was no different. the more land the empire had, the richer it was esteemed to be. If that extra land just so happened to produce gold, silver, lumber or gems, then the empire was seen as being far richer than its neighbors. And so, the governors sent by England, and even the first governors chosen from the colonials, had a second objective: to seek riches and those things that would create those riches. Gold. Silver. Timber.
It seemed that the new colonies were rich in lumber, but not gold. Or silver. Or anything else that would make England richer than its neighbors.Not that lumber wouldn’t make the empire rich, but gold and precious metals and stones were far more valuable and far more sought after.
But the desires of the empire and the wishes of the new colonists took a back seat to sickness and starvation. Of course it was recorded that at least 1/4 to 1/3 died en route to the “New World” from disease and another 1/4 to 2/3 would die of illness and starvation once they landed…not to mention freezing to death that first winter. They had not planned ahead far enough to bring enough provisions for the first winter season or enough seeds to plant that first spring. They had only thought of one thing: The desire to worship as they wished. Beyond that desire, there had been nothing else.
In our modern age, we forget that had it not been for the natives, the colonies would have died off. Without the natives, this great country would not exist as the country it is today. Had there not been a feast to make peace between the colonists and the natives, Thanksgiving-as a holiday-would not exist. We take for granted the freedoms we now share. We preach our selfish vision of Christ to those around us, making our selfish expectations for others his expectations instead of giving of ourselves selflessly and without condition. We do not respect the beliefs of others, the lifestyles of others, the openness of others, the freedoms of others to believe and live as they desire. We see only our own selfish wants. Our own selfish religious desires. In essence, we see God in our image, not ourselves in His image. We have placed our own desire to believe freely above the desires of the entity we so desire to claim as our God and Savior.
We refuse to see life from the point of view of another, preferring to create the world in our own image and then press others into molds far too limited to be realistic or even true to what humanity should be. Instead, we prefer to see those around us as the infidel, the unbeliever, while we chase false gods and prophets because we like the message they give.
We have supplanted faith, replacing it with self-desire. We have rejected belief, replacing it with gluttony and greed. We have erased the spiritual lifestyle and created a religion that relies on physical icons, rites, and rituals-physical changes to herald spiritual changes-to prove that we are on the right path. But religion was not the intent of those who started spiritual movements. Christ did not intend for the path he exemplified to become a religion, nor did Mohammed or Krishna, Or even Buddha. All was meant to be a spiritual journey of slow imperceivable changes that would culminate in a different person where the believer/follower was concerned. Instead, Christianity and Islam became physically oppressing caricatures of what they were supposed to be. They ceased to be ways of living and became religions that desired the eradication of everyone who refused to bend to their selfish wills. Neither deal with the will of God anymore.
But, again, I veer off subject. I suppose my point is that we waste too much time complaining that when Thanksgiving comes around, we no longer know exactly what we have to be thankful for. We treat it like a vacation when it should be a day of reflection. We tend to see it as another day we can use to push our agendas. Another day to wage the endless war we have engaged ourselves in, allowing ourselves to be separated from our fellow human beings because they are black or red or Mexican or Native American or Jew or Republican or Democrat or Muslim or gay or Trans or a sinner or whatever we see them as. We never see them as just another fellow traveler on the same path called life. We cannot seem to see that we no longer have to validate them with our personal views in order to accept them as a member of the human race. Because if we have to validate them, then we are actually trying to validate ourselves. In trying to validate ourselves, we realize that even we are not worthy of whatever mercy we are shown and thus cannot seem to find within ourselves an ounce of mercy or understanding to show another.
So, Today, reflect. More than that, go and relearn this country’s history and the history of the world. Learn about the times spoken about in your Bible and learn about the customs of the time…seeking out the customs of the surrounding nations. learn why the imagery is as it is and why the book is so hard for even theologians to understand. Learn to question what you were taught. Learn that the truth is not bound to just one source, but can be found everywhere in every form of teaching. Forget your pride and learn humility.
Moreover, find a little peace. Remove yourself from the battle for a little while. Step back and take a look from a different perspective. Rest from it all. Give yourself a little time to reboot. Tomorrow is a new day, even if you can’t see it as such. begin a process of change. Look in your own heart and find your own faults, choosing to work on those before you attack anyone else for the faults you perceive in them.
Finally, look inside yourself and reflect back on your life to see what you have to be thankful for. If you can’t find anything, then you have spent too much time focused on things you should not have been focused on such as the color of your neighbor’s skin, his place of origin, his beliefs, or his sexual orientation/[preference. Or perhaps you have focused on other nonessential idols such as gun rights or forcing your belief down the throats of all you come in contact with. Whatever consumes your heart is your god, therefore whatever consumes your heart consumes your mind and takes away any reason to be thankful, thus you become a slave to it. Free your mind.