Forgiveness is quite the word for the month of November, isn’t it? Especially as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. The poignancy of writing about forgiveness in such proximity to the conflicting Thanksgiving holiday brings into sharp focus all that has been forgiven; and all that yet requires repentance. Where to even start?
As a child, I was taught thankfulness to God, and the Native Peoples, who helped the Pilgrims survive the harshness of that first winter; in a land promised to provide freedom from tyranny and religious oppression of the English government. Regardless of how accurately taught, or caught, my information was, the reality of religious, and even basic freedoms, hasn’t worked out quite like the utopian concept proposed. We are left facing a holiday from the doorway of a country riddled with injustice, discrimination, and frustration. How do I talk about Thanksgiving or forgiveness?
I’m not going to give you succinct, tidy points, through which you will be able to be thankful, offer, and receive forgiveness. That would be far to simplistic and impotent. But I do think we can take a good look at our reality and glean a sobering appreciation.
This Thanksgiving, there are individuals from many religions, many different nationalities, and numerous races residing within the borders of the United States. We all reside on conquered land. The early settlers had devastating effects on the Native Peoples. Guns, disease, and tyrannical mindsets cleared the land for a new way of functioning, leaving little of the gifts and wisdom cultivated by those now pushed out. While we are acutely, and perhaps disproportionately, aware that inter-tribal wars occurred prior to the European settlers’ arrival, our eagerness to point out the failings of those conquered, leaves us with a distorted view. For what are we thankful if the Native Peoples were destroying themselves anyway? No one desires conquering. No matter how intense the conflict before the settlers’ arrival, a conquering still took place.
This is the sobering reality. That we all exist on a gift. Some of our ancestors came with force. Some were brought here by force. For some, coming here was forced by horrific circumstances. Some had the land forcibly taken from them. As I face this Thanksgiving, I am sitting in the reality of all that has been forgiven, all that yet begs for repentance, and the overwhelming, sobering awe that I have such great privelege despite the heritage by which it was achieved. The sobering reality is I can be so completely thankful because I am also so completely undeserving.
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to consider the forgiveness that has been offered to you. Without mental excuses, consider carefully what forgiveness was offered to your ancestors? What forgiveness has been offered to your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. What forgiveness has been offered to you? Consider, this year, offering thankfulness for the forgiveness that has been offered, and how that has created a path towards peace in a world otherwise bent on conflict.
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We are aware of the magnitude of this subject matter and the inadequate brevity of this post. For more, please reference our podcasts, our 1Community groups, or feel free to email us at Uniquelythesame@mission1race.org.
We also wish to address our inability to consider issues of sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse in our discussions on developing understanding and oneness. There are times to stop focusing on the forgiveness you’ve been offered and focus instead on maintaining safety. If you are in an abusive situation of any kind, we encourage you to seek professional and other help; and to realize that this content does not necessarily apply to your circumstances.