On Being Thankful…
My minister this past Sunday preached on the topic of “Decolonizing Our Faith” during what is traditionally our service of Thanksgiving. She took a hard line approach on how the greed of Europeans who came to the Americas for riches eventually lead to the genocide of 98% of the Native American people. I must admit that I was taken aback by the topic and tried my hardest to open my mind to how it related to Thanksgiving. I left the sermon thinking that I should feel very guilty about my privilege rather than thankful for the blessings of community and my part in sharing with others the bounty of my hard work.
The dilemma of the current trend to identify white privilege and associate this with the term white supremacy I think keeps the United States focused on a regressive experience of shame. It also assumes that there has never been progress achieved for healing deep wounds of our struggles around racism.
I love to reminisce about what pre-discovery Native American culture must have been like. They cared for the earth and honored the changing climate by understanding that all of their possessions were not totally secure. Mother Nature and Father Spirit could be unpredictable and it was necessary to move from time to time and adapt. We know that there were boundaries between the tribes. At times they challenged these boundaries among them, and death and destruction would occur. This is the unfortunate truth of our human species. As one native might have rationalized, “If I need to go onto unfamiliar lands to hunt buffalo in order to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for my family, I am going to take a chance and do that for our survival.” Then, as another native of a different tribe might have rationalized, “Your tribe has killed our most honored buffalo on our ancestors’ sacred lands. You must pay for your actions with your life!” And so, the human struggle plays out as it has for generation upon generation on every continent.\
For a moment, let’s leave out how imperialist countries used their wealth and power to colonize American soil. Let’s instead turn our focus on the Pilgrims. Freedom to worship God in their own way was their cause for escape from their homeland. They took a chance and came to unfamiliar territory. And with an open mind the natives helped the pilgrims through a harsh winter. The Pilgrims were thankful for the blessings of community and shared with their neighbors the bounty of their hard work….That’s it! That is the message of Thanksgiving.
Without guilt or shame, a struggle to save lives was met with shared courage and deeper understanding. This is the Female Principle in action all those many years ago. Why do we ignore this?