We all know that Columbus didn't discover America, and that he was in it for the money just like everybody else. We know that the Puritans didn't actually dock at Plymouth Rock, nor did they befriend any of the native people. These are stories we have created to make ourselves comfortable with invading America, killing the natives, destroying the land, and claiming territory from sea to shining sea as our right. Manifest Destiny, we called it.
You can't blame our ancestors, though. People believe what we are taught. In the 19th century people were taught that killing the savage natives and interloping Mexicans was necessary, because expanding to the Pacific was our destiny. Terribly convenient, isn't it, that Christianity has revealed so many politically appealing "truths" throughout history?
Remember the Crusades? The torture and killing of anyone who didn't believe what we thought they should? Remember learning how wrong that was, and that we formed a new country with the premise that everyone is equal and free to practice their faith in whatever way they choose without persecution, as long as they didn't hurt anybody? Funny how that has been twisted into a civil cold war between Christian extremists demanding we be a Christian country, and people of other faiths demanding that we remove all reference to God, any god, from all public property, literature, currency, and especially education.
We're just never happy, are we? Today we glorify the Puritans -- you know, the ones who instilled the sense of shame in our society, the ones who fed us the belief that a woman's body was inherently sexual and must be covered for the good of society. The ones who killed all native people, believing anybody unlike them, without their religion, was less than human. The ones who not only hated the Catholic church, but believed the Church of England and the Lutheran church were equally corrupt, and that everyone needed to be much more strict and rigid in their spiritual practices. Puritans were America's first fundamentalist extremists. Yay for the Puritans. No wonder our uneducated, self-righteous white men still blame women for their own lust, and kill any other ethnic group or faith tradition. God says it's how it should be.
Mankind has not evolved as much as one would hope since the 16th century. You'd think that at least the current young adult generation, with such ready access to a world of information, would start to recognize our hypocrisy, would realize that connection to God is internal and quiet and very personal. That we have no business telling anybody else how to find it or what to call it or how to live it. That we are a tribal race, we need one another, and that war is never the solution.
I am thankful, this Thanksgiving, for the abundance of blessings my family and I enjoy, but I am also sad that mankind is still so gullible and still passing misinformation from generation to generation, dragging our country farther and farther from the global community we all claim to want. To quote Pete Seeger, "Oh when will we ever learn? Oh when will we ever learn?"