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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving... and other stuff

Nothing's ever simple, is it?

In my sorting out the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I've at times thought about our own "origins" here in the US. We've got our own myths like Israel does. Cowboys and Indians. Thanksgiving decorations with the pilgrim, Indian, and turkey hanging out together, BFFs beside a cornucopia and a table full of food.

Shel Silverstein has a poem about looking at holidays from the food's point of view. It's kind of funny as is. But it made me uncomfortable a few months back as we read it as I thought about point of view in general. It doesn't help that I've been wondering how to explain some things to the kids- to tell the truth, but not to instill fear and hate (Thanksgiving and the Israeli occupation, for example). Back to POV- How the winner writes history in war. How the Palestinians in the current and historical conflict have the same problem even though we have the benefit of hindsight and the benefit of it's not being too late to right the wrongs. And Thanksgiving coming up. The kids are old enough to ask questions and notice certain things. One is in school and so she is learning the usual pilgrim myths from what I've gathered so far. Maybe genocide is too tough a topic for them yet, but maybe we can talk about some of the values they had and that these are often better than what the pilgrims brought (disease, superiority, crops that didn't work here, selling to replace giving, etc).

I don't know that I will boycott Thanksgiving, but I certainly want to be like some of the Native American groups who give thanks every day since this is also part of my own faith. I appreciate that this fact was brought up in worship just this morning. There is plenty that is good about it. It is pretty rare that Americans are encouraged to take days off (we like a disgruntled stressed out workforce here- it's great for the economy), so I'm all for anything like Thanksgiving where we can have a dependable widely recognized break. The time to get together with family is important, so I'd hate to see Thanksgiving done away with. On the other hand, I don't want to contribute to the preservation of the pilgrim (good) and Indian (bad) myths in any way. I feel that I should take a stand and bring up Native Americans and learn and ask questions, but most likely we'll focus on being thankful and avoid the pilgrims. I guess I don't have a solid plan on that one. We'll see.

I referred to this  above...

Some Native Americans have 13 celebrations of thanks a year and some don't celebrate Thanksgiving because they feel it is against their culture of being thankful every day.

I wish it were like this...

Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect.

 In my semi-disenchantment with our brand of capitalism, I have often wondered how or if something a little less synonymous with greed and more in line with the Bible could succeed. I listened to a bit on Quaker capitalism but we can also learn from Native Americans. The statement above is opposite of the atmosphere today. Today, it matters how much you have and can get; the method matters a lot less. If you're giving something away, you're seen as a sucker (your loss!) and definitely not respected more. If you're ripping people off, you are savvy, not a thief. Yes, there will always be bad apples, but these attitudes are the norm in society. For a country that prides itself on a Christian foundation and values, this capitalism thing sure is messed up. But for a country who wants to believe that Indians were dirty savages save a handful who helped out, converted to Puritanism and participated in harvest festivities while pilgrim diseases and guns (and subjugation) emptied the land for "discovery" and colonies I guess it's not much of a stretch.

I wonder if our myths aren't part of the reason we are so fond of Israel and theirs (Lucky us- a land without people for a people with no land! After massacres...).

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