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The stories, they are a-changin

I grew up on the Charlie Brown version of Thanksgiving. There was a huge feast between the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating the bounty of the harvest and cooperation.

We'd dress up. Some of us would be Pilgrims while others were Indians. Everyone was asked to share what they were grateful for. And we'd eat turkey, candied yams, peas, stuffing and lots of pie.

This was clearly only one side of the story. There's an important perspective that's been missing since its inception.

My daughter is learning the story the Native Americans tell about Thanksgiving. It's called the National Day of Mourning.

I know that this might seem like I'm getting political. But I'm not. I'm getting in touch with my humanity. And that's something I think we all need to be doing more of.

The United American Indians of New England describe "Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures."

Maybe it's the empath in me, but I don't know how you can't feel bad when hearing stories like settlers intentionally passing out blankets infested with smallpox to Native Americans to murder them. The suffering Native Americans have endured is nothing short of atrocious. And it's not over.

Yet, honoring their voices and inviting their perspective into the narrative of our country has been categorically rejected for years. Why is that?

I have a theory. It has nothing to do with all the rational explanations. Sayings like history is written by the victors. Or we can't change what's in the past. Or they just have to deal, it's the way the world is.

The world is what we make of it, and I for one believe in a just, kind, and compassionate world.

No, I think the real reason is because listening deeply to the stories of Native Americans creates feelings of extreme discomfort. And our society's go to response for "bad" feelings is to ignore, suppress, numb, and obfuscate them.

It's much easier to reject someone's story of suffering than it is to be with the pain, hurt and discomfort - without trying to patch things over with toxic positivity.

It's easier to shut others out then it is to open our hearts to them.

Unfortunately, whenever we categorically ignore another's suffering we are denying their humanity.

As a white woman, I get the discomfort. It's not only hard to be present to the pain and hurt of others. It's difficult to confront the ways I've been complicit in perpetuating harm by participating in the status quo. And it gets harder when I try to fathom how my world might change to make way for reparations.

The possibility of such change stokes a lot of fear. It makes sense, there's a lot that's unknown and the threat of an "unbearable loss" for the privileged looms large.

It would be easier to get mad and write other people off. To insist that the Charlie Brown version of Thanksgiving is the only "truth" and remain rigid in my thinking.

But then I wouldn't be living in alignment with my values.

If I insisted on perpetuating the status quo, I wouldn't be acting like a wholehearted leader. Instead, I would be letting my own emotional dysregulation cause others harm by insisting that my perspective and my struggles are more important than anyone else.

I'm choosing (a privilege) to sit with the discomfort and modify my own words and actions around Thanksgiving because I want to honor the humanity of others who've been degraded for far too long. Because it's more important to me to be kind and inclusive than to be "right."

I think a lot of hatred is spread because people have become addicted to self-righteous indignation. They feel bad. That bad feeling leads to anger. That anger and all subsequent actions are just and right. End of story.

But that's the problem. It's not just or right. And it's not the end of the story.

It is the natural course of human progress that the stories, they are a-changin. And the story of Thanksgiving, I mean National Day of Mourning, is just one example.

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2 commentaires

Carl Dierschow
Carl Dierschow
29 nov. 2023

Powerful thoughts today, Ariana! Thank you.

Ariana Friedlander
Ariana Friedlander
29 nov. 2023
En réponse à

Thank you Carl!

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