We’re springing into what’s colloquially referred to as the “holiday season.” From Thanksgiving all the way through and into the New Year, a lot of people are busy with a lot of stuff. As the days get shorter and colder in most of the northern half of the U.S., so comes different feelings and emotions. The holidays are fraught with somber remembrance, beaming with joyful glee, as well as moments of deep depression. Exiting the Thanksgiving kick-off of the holiday season and entering the “all the rest,” an article from last month by friend, colleague, and advocate/activist Cheryl Todd, seems to speak closely to the spirit of the history of Thanksgiving. At least I think so. It also prods a contemplative topic to reflect upon.
Todd asks the question, “Are you creating or allowing?” The title of the piece tugs at the bottom of our coats’ and innocently charges us to be part of the process in a Socratic way. Opening, Todd states, “The lives of our children and grandchildren will be impacted by the decisions we make today.” If we analyze the reason for the season in regards to Thanksgiving, Todd’s sentiments are spot on.
Are your decisions creating the pathway toward Individual Liberties for current and future generations? Or are you simply allowing cultural whims that seem to shift with the breeze to overtake our nation?
Things that drove, who we know as “the PIlgrims,” to eventually come to the New World, reverberated into our founding. It wasn’t all cornucopias and turkeys when the Pilgrims got here, and this is something that we’ve all been well indoctrinated in – at least somewhat indoctrinated in.
We can best sum up the Pilgrim experience as; They came over here, they had issues, the Native Americans bailed ‘em out, they were thankful, and then had a dinner party to celebrate. There were buckles on shoes and pimpin’ hats.
What can get overlooked from this story is that the Pilgrims, who were separatist Puritans with belief structures that deviated from the Protestant sect (the mandatory religion of England), left England because of the lack of civil liberties. In their case, they fled England for the Netherlands, and eventually made the decision to sprint to the New World in order to economically survive and not be culturally diluted via appropriation. They decided to leave Europe.
What followed in the Pilgrims’ story involved taking an awful ride on a 100-foot “ship” – which is not very big mind you – to North America. They landed on a rock – maybe – and settled in Massachusetts, a place where, to this day, the people embrace those who have different views on civil liberties. Maybe that latter part isn’t true. It was winter in Cape Cod, an awful time to be in that region, and as settlers no less. That was in December of 1620.
The separatist Puritan Pilgrims had some massive hardships when they executed their plan to find freedom in what became the State of Massachusetts. Their death toll was high. Through the journey to get to Massachusetts and before spring, they suffered casualties. The settlers would conceivably not have made it through the harsh winter without the help of the native Wampanoags and Patuxet.
William Bradford, who became the Governor of Plymouth Colony in April of 1621, befriended a local native named Tisquantum, who most know as “Squanto.” The help that Bradford received from Squanto and the other natives was pivotal to the success of the colony. Squanto’s own rich and difficult past contributed – probably – to his willingness to help out, a whole other story.
The Puritan Pilgrims, who practiced their special flavor of Christianity – the whole thing that drove them out of England – followed their tradition of holding days of fasting and subsequent to that, days of thanks. After a bountiful harvest from the aid of Squanto, et.al., the Pilgrims had a day of Thanksgiving, which they shared with those who gave them aid.
Thanksgiving essentially was a Puritan religious practice/holiday. Considering the catalyst of their migration, this is rather appropriate. Is there more to the story? Sure.
Skip a few hundred years, gloss over a bloody revolution, many wars, and we have the words of Todd, guiding us and charging us in a very salient manner.
Life moves quickly. Culture perhaps even more so. We must be intentionally mindful of the past, present in the moment, and prepared for what the future holds. Whether we are engaged in the events shaping our world or not, time will march on. Many of those events, it seems, are focused on cultural and legal shifts in how Americans view our basic Individual Liberties, specifically as they pertain to our right to keep and bear arms. In these moments it’s worth asking ourselves, “Are you creating more freedom and liberty or are you simply allowing those vital elements to be stripped away?”
Too often, we point our fingers at elected officials, at “the media,” and a whole litany of “thems” and “theys” who are eroding our rights and infringing on our liberties.
In 1620 when the separatist Puritan Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, they charted the colony under Britain. Not being in England proper did allow them to practice their religion outside of the watchful eye of the crown, but that does not mean they, and others, were unaffected.
At the time, the only “churches” that were allowed in land controlled by England were those sanctioned by England, Protestants. Anyone not erecting a Protestant church had to meet in “meetinghouses.”
For the separatists, not having a church wasn’t an issue. They did not put much stock in ornate churches, and all accounts say they met on the bottom floor of the town’s fort.
The story of the Pilgrims is not the story of our founding fathers, as we tell it today, per se. But the spirit of their story is the same spirit that led to the continued colonization of the New World and the subsequent founding of the United States. Those seeking economic opportunities prospered in the New World, as much as those who were seeking civil liberties.
Our Founding Fathers and Mothers certainly embodied these principles of creating and allowing. They fought, bled, starved, and died as they CREATED this nation which ALLOWED for their children and ours to thrive wrapped in the precious and unique American Constitutional Protections. They were the counter-culturists of their time. They had every force against them, as we do today, and yet they changed the entire world.
It’s important to remember they were just ordinary people who finally said ENOUGH, we will no longer allow unjust laws to slowly smother us..
The ironic thing about what’s going on in the U.S. today – 20th and 21st century – can be directly analogous to the time of the Pilgrims and our founding.
Had the crown allowed just a small bit of liberty to proliferate, they may not have had any separatists. In the late 1700’s, had the king not responded the way he did to events like the Boston Tea Party, or imposed restrictions on the people the way he did, there would not have been the same push-back. The complete arrest of the colony of Massachusetts was a bad move. But the king had to beat his chest.
In the tyrannical government’s attempt to maintain order in the colonies, they tightened their grip more and more, and that’s what pushed the founders into declaring their independence. That was not an easy decision. Had the king simply made minor concessions and appeased the people from time to time, we’d probably be speaking English rather than, er, English. Well, British English instead of the more civilized American variant.
The “all or nothing” approach from draconian jurisdictions in the 21st Century United States has created the fall of policies they held/still strongly hold to. If states like New York and New Jersey simply did not clamp down so hard, the people would not have pushed back the way we did. In the process, they’ve lost the baby with the bath water. The entire scheme that allowed tyrannical state governments to control the people has been toppling. The fight did not end in June of 2022, but it did define the rules of engagement.
Lessons to be learned here all revolve around these important precepts. Those that wish to have, maintain, and regain their civil liberties, must act to do so. In 2023, we don’t have to jump on a small ship to do that, or declare full independence from a tyrant. We’ve got it easy. We have a process and we can use it. That process involves being involved in politics; local, state, and or federal. Being an advocate and activist is something recognized in our founding documents, and is the way we’re able to secure freedom for days to come.
“When you do this, you will create a future that honors the sacrifices made by so many that will once again allow your children and your children’s children to live in a nation rooted in liberty.” – Cheryl Todd
This holiday season, take a moment to reflect not only on the social aspects of the season but the reason for the season. Look at this from a historical perspective. Ask, “What brought us here? What allowed us to prosper?” Rights given to us by our creator. It was people though, who ensured those rights became enumerated.
It’s important we remember those facts. Todd astutely observed, “There is effort being put in by those who hate freedom and who love to live with the boot of tyranny on their necks and ours. However, the final outcome always comes down to personal responsibility.”
Have happy holidays. Please do take some time to reflect. Make that New Year’s resolution to “create” and read Cheryl Todd’s full article, “Are You Creating Or Allowing?” over at the Independent Women’s Forum. It’s worth a full examination without commentary.
“The lives of our children and grandchildren will be impacted by the decisions we make today.” – Cheryl Todd