I spent a good part of the day trying to think of a post for Columbus Day. So many things were on my mind as possible material surrounding this controversial day.
I've been a proponent of justice for the Native Americans for as long as I can remember. The way they were enslaved and mistreated (a gross understatement) by European settlers makes my skin crawl. The idea of the U.S. Government offering money for "redskins" is unsettling, to say the least. The fact that Native Americans still sit on reservations with terrible health care, rampant suicide rates, debilitating depression and alcoholism, and that there is no recorded government statistic for missing or murdered Native American women makes me want to scream. So, the fact that we celebrate one of the biggest perpetrators of Native American oppression and genocide as a national holiday gives me plenty to rant about.
As I was pondering a post that wasn't just reiterating what everyone else was already saying, I was making breakfast for my boys. They slept away half of their day off and I wanted them to have something good to eat when they got up. It wasn't a feast and it's not to say that I deserve the father of the year award (because making breakfast for your kids is normal), but I enjoyed doing it.
Carefully stirring the eggs with just the right amount of milk to keep them fluffy, it occurred to me: this is what it's all about. Being in the moment and fully present as I made a breakfast that I wanted my boys to enjoy had me in sacred space. I wanted the writing of my blog post to be a spiritual practice (and indeed it is), but I was overlooking the true act of devotion as I sought something else.
This realization made me wonder how much of our ambitions lead to destructive practices and the mistreatment of others. Instead of wanting all the land to themselves and subjugating a people that were "less advanced" (a matter of perception) than they were, what if the European settlers and conquerors would have embraced the indigenous peoples and their cultures?
What if the goal were not complete dominance based upon a misguided ideology of manifest destiny, but rather the desire to live in harmony with and learn from coequals?
How would history have been different if fear of these "inferior mongrels" was not the dominant mindset, but instead a recognition of differences while embracing the beauty of a people who were imbued with the image of the beautiful God in and by whom they were created?
These are all valid questions that could have led to some very different outcomes. While it is a woeful mistake to forget the past, it is not the biggest atrocity - thinking that it's too late to do anything about it is.
Let us remember history, be aware enough to be present in the sacred moments, and speak WITH (not for) those whose voice has been taken from them.