Well it’s thanksgiving. As usual for anyone who’s picked up a history book, celebrating thanksgiving is one hell of a choice. Granted it was made generations ago so we do it out of habit and I am happy to have the extra time off, although time off as a student is more of a concept and not an actual thing. Point being, celebrating genocide is something we do here in the US. Because that’s how we were founded.
Everyone gets up in arms when you point out that America is a racist pile of dogshit, but it’s the truth and because I served my country I can say that there is potential to be more, but if we ignore our past there’s no future. It’s almost cliche to say at this point, but America is so racist that when you protest racism people feel like you’re protesting America.
Which is true to a point I guess, but it’s like owning a car. I love cars, I do and I enjoy working on cars. If I had a sweet, sweet classic to drive around every day I would cherish it. But my real love is modifying cars (and computers, and just about everything now that I think about it). Because I see potential in what that car, computer, etc can be. I don’t hate the thing because it’s not what I want it to be, it’s that I’m ready to do the work to make it something better.
The fact of the matter is we (as a society) like to pretend that the indigenous people who lived here magically disappeared when we “discovered” the place they were living. I say “discovered” because it would be like me “discovering” your home and claiming it as my own. Don’t like the idea? Too bad, I found it, so it’s mine. We collectively decide that our country is exactly the way we want it and why bother changing it?
There are whole racist tirades about how teaching the history of racism is making white people feel bad. The point isn’t to make white people feel bad (HEAVEN FORBID!). The point of teaching that stuff is that you don’t know where you’re going until you can see where you’ve been. It’s great to look forward, but you need to look back to make sure you’re even going the right direction. History is important and acknowledging that history is even more important because these horrible injustices are still ongoing.
Because we didn’t just kick indigenous people out of the country, we caged them. Gave them small bits of land and we let them use it at our (Americas) convenience. Oh we need to run an oil line right through your land, do you mind? Aww shucks we do this all the time though!
The fact is that I own a home on land that isn’t mine. We all (non-indigenous) live on land that isn’t ours. We can acknowledge that without packing our bags and moving out. That isn’t the point, the point is to be respectful to the people who had these places taken from them. We can choose to respect the places they live and be respectful of the land we live on. We can also demand that the government acknowledge these atrocities and try to make amends (namely by stopping oil companies from building pipelines right through literally sacred lands).
This was supposed to be a short post, but here we are with me on my soapbox once again. Bottom line is simply that we need to do the work, but can’t do the work until we admit that things are broken and things are definitely broken.
Anyway this year we are once again living in a pandemic. If you cannot change anything, at the very least be smart and limit the spread of COVID.
The New York Times newsletter this morning included a tidbit I hadn’t known before: when Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863, he proposed that it involve not just celebration or gratitude, but “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” Whatever one might think of Lincoln and his motives at the time, that seems to me like sound advice, and an aspect of the holiday that has perhaps gotten lost.
Americans certainly have things to be thankful for — but I can’t say that we earned them by being pure and wonderful people. Heh. Nor can I say that none of what we have came at others’ expense, and professing gratitude for anything ill-gotten is, well, like adding insult to injury.
True love for one’s country really is about potential. You have to love it enough to not let it keep its rotten parts.
I’ll be dining alone today … my family and I have decided on no holiday travel this year. Whatever you’re up to, have a good one.
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November 25, 2021 at 1:12 pm
I didn’t know the Lincoln bit either! I agree, sound advice. It’s a shame messages like that get lost and/or warped in time.
See I wrote a whole post trying to explain it and you go and sum it up in two sentences. You’re right, it’s all about the potential and we have great potential! I just feel like we’re at a tipping point where we can either adapt and be better than we were or we can stagnant and become irrelevant (or worse, completely collapse).
I’m sorry to hear about the family stuff. COVID does make that rough and travel is pretty perilous for the time being. I’ll be alone as well, but it gives me time to relax, read, and torment the cats with my horrible jokes. 😂 Thank you and I hope you have a good Thanksgiving as well!
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November 25, 2021 at 2:05 pm