In 1620, a group of 102 brave souls left England for a new life in the new world. Their 66-day sea journey was grueling: illness, cramped quarters, and poor rations took their toll.
They missed their planned arrival date, coming ashore in late November, completely unprepared for the harsh winter ahead. Half of them died, and the rest would have as well if it hadn’t been for the help of the local Indigenous peoples.
To show their gratitude, on the one-year anniversary of their arrival, the Plymouth colonists shared an autumn feast with their Wampanoag Native American neighbors.
Fast forward 240 years. The United States was embroiled in a deadly Civil War. Half of the country’s citizens despised the president. In an effort to heal the country, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Ironically, the year 2020 is the 400th anniversary of that treacherous first landing at what the Pilgrims called Plymouth Rock. And in this year, we’ve faced all the fear, illness and loss they must have. As during the Civil War, half of the country despises the current president, while the other half despises the one about to take office.
There are two take-aways from the history lesson above:
First, setting aside their differences and fears, it was only because humans helped humans that the Pilgrims survived. Doing the same, the Pilgrims celebrated their existence with their neighbors.
Secondly, even during some of this country’s darkest days, thoughts of healing and thanksgiving ascended from the noise.
As we spend time being thankful, looking forward to holidays and a new year, I propose we rise above greed, anger, violence and what divides us. I propose we learn from both our early history and our more recent one. Learning from history isn’t new; it’s just sometimes forgotten.
With love and humility, I propose that 2021 be the year of
humankind’s 2nd Act.
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you all!