There is a post making its rounds in social media stating the true facts about the origin of Thanksgiving. I had a few different reactions to what I read in that post. It provoked deep introspection, which is a good thing.
When I was in college back in the late ‘60’s, I met a couple of very passionate Native American activists who enlightened me with the hidden history of the founding of this country. This was during the time of protest marches, and I wanted to do something about the shame and guilt I felt for being white. They didn’t want my help. This was an Indian thing, they said, and I was not one of them. They were angry young men, and rightfully so. But I felt helpless. And I was resigned to carry my guilt and focus on other things.
This post renewed my shame with its appalling details, some of which I had not known before. This strong sense of guilt was followed by a rationalization that, well, this is just another example of the dark side of human nature. There is not a person on this planet whose ancestors did not suffer atrocities at the hands of another. Those actions cannot be undone. We all share the suffering and we all share the guilt. While these statements are true, that doesn’t make it right. Haven’t we grown as human beings? Don’t we know better now? According to the daily news, apparently not. And I refuse to feel helpless anymore.
So here is my plan of action.
1) I am no longer acknowledging or promoting the erroneous legends behind Thanksgiving Day, but I am taking that day as an opportunity to formally celebrate the blessings in my life. I will focus on the present.
2) I am setting aside December 1st, which I am calling Dedication Day to formally acknowledge my hope and faith that the human race can truly evolve to a state of tolerance, acceptance, and compassion, and to acknowledge my dedication to that goal.
3) I am marking this day by doing three things:
a) Apologizing to those I have disrespected, disregarded, and hurt in any way.
b) Forgiving all who have done the same to me.
c) Most importantly, being mindful and acting with compassion, acceptance, and kindness to others. Not some time in the future, but now.
I am deeply and truly sorry for all those who suffered at the hands of my ancestors. I am also deeply and truly sorry for the pain I have caused others.
I forgive those who have imposed suffering on my bloodlines and on me.
I dedicate myself to moving forward with respectful thoughts and deeds. I will remember the truth of our shared past, not to continue the energy of harm, but to remind me of lessons learned. And I will strive to respond to truth in a constructive manner by speaking up and stepping up.
We can do this! We have it in us! Would you like to do it with me?