So a friend of mine posted the following on her Facebook feed:
I like Thanksgiving as much as the next American, and I really do have plenty to be thankful for, but let's have some perspective: It's a day we celebrate Europeans invading another land, bringing disease & technologically superior weapons, taking that land from those already living on it and killing them or shoving them onto unproductive lands we had no other use for.
To which I felt a need to respond with the following:
It is folly to try and judge the actions of our ancestors by the standards of our culture today. People grow by learning from making mistakes and learning from them. Society is made of people and thus do the same. In an ideal world no one should have suffered what we now recognize as injustices committed to our fellow man and woman. While I would argue we live in a better society today we don't live in an ideal society now so why try to judge history as being ideal then. Be thankful that we can look back at our history and recognize that we committed such injustice. Be thankful we live in a society where we have learned from those mistakes and have however imperfectly worked towards and are still working towards correcting them.
I am thankful I live in a society where the ideal is that a woman is the equal of a man. I am thankful I live in a society where the ideal is all are equal and protected from the tyranny of the majority. I am thankful I live in a society where the ideal is that we are free, accepted, and can be who ever it is I am. I am thankful I live in a society where a member of the minority can rise to be its leader. I am thankful I live in a society where a person with nothing can rise to greatness, or if not that be able to give their children a better life than the one they come from.
Does our society meet these ideals? Not by a long shot but they are our ideals and we have made great strides in achieving them. Are there cultures that are closer to those ideals than we are. Perhaps but I doubt you'll find one that hasn't been influenced by our history and mistakes. It isn't hard to look around the world and find cultures that have more in common with the cultures of our "condemned" ancestors than they do with us. Cultures that either haven't had our experiences (good and bad) or cultures that have but haven't learned from them. Cultures that do not recognize what we consider elemental freedom and rights. Cultures where who you are born to determines how far you can go in that society. Cultures where not being one of them means you are nothing and can cost you your life. Cultures where a woman is little more than property. Cultures where racism is the norm to be practiced rather than condemned and fought against.
I wish our history was a history that matched the values and ideals we hold today. That however is not where we started from and I do not believe we would be where we are today (and where we will be in the future) without the path we took. For all the ills that may be blamed rightly or wrongly be laid upon America's doorstep I do not think it can be denied the world is a better place for our existence. That starts with a group of people seeking a better life and to escape the injustices of their society. People who by our standards committed grievous injustices of their own. Without their errors though we would not have a society that recognizes and strives to correct those injustices. So while I wish it could of been accomplished in better ways, I am thankful for those events and celebrate they allow me to live in the society I do warts and all.
We are real good at pointing out the inequities and injustices that have and do exist in our society. It is something we need to continue to correct to become a better society. At some point though we really to need to a good look around and realize where we are, where we came from, and where we could be. It is far from perfect but it is a far sight better than most and unlike other places we have the opportunity to make it better still. We should be thankful for that.
Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.