To our detriment, history is often distilled down to a few sentences in our schools. As writer Nathaniel Philbrick writes in Mayflower, “there is a surprising amount of truth” in our “threadbare story of the First Thanksgiving.” It is what happened before and after that people know so little about.
It is a vivid tale of “courage, community and war,” and out of this little told story, a country was shaped. Philbrick writes:
There are two possible responses to a world suddenly gripped by terror and contention…[one way is] to get mad and get even. But…unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. Then there is the [Benjamin] Church [a frontiersman born in Plymouth] way. Instead of loathing the enemy, try to learn as much as possible form him… try to bring him around to your way of thinking. First and foremost, treat him like a human being…and in this he anticipated the welcoming, transformative beast that eventually became — once the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in place — the Untied States.
In an age where politicians and their followers knowingly try to divide people only to hold on to power, where some of them believe violence is acceptable, where people think wearing masks and harassing people is antifascist, and others think its nothing to fabricate fake fears and crisis to scare people onto their side, perhaps we should for once look to our own history.
We could learn from their trials and tribulations, far worse than our own. Then with crystal clarity, those who seek to undo what was born out of the good and the bad, will be unmasked and exposed.