Today the USA celebrates Columbus Day and Canadians Thanksgiving. Our US Thanksgiving comes around next month. Both leave me conflicted. Surely I honor the heritage of my husband’s Italian American family, yet Christopher Columbus was a cruel and greedy person. The traditional Thanksgiving tale speaks of gratitude and cooperation – admirable virtues – but fails to mention the 500+ years of systemic genocide of native inhabitants and their culture. I love parades and family gatherings, and the thought of giving it all up is too much to bear! What has evolved then is my personal strategy for being faithful to my values while remaining engaged with family and community.
- Identify my personal values, AKA the grounding of my faith. This can get challenging as what I think should be my values might not be reflected in my living. I say family is highly valued, but would you know that by looking at my calendar? Hmmmmm.
- What in this celebration resonates with my values? What part can I feel good about promoting and encouraging?
- What feels so wrong? For me, being able to articulate and name the difficult part of the holiday is an important step. When I know what I am dealing with a decision is needed – ignore or expose and resist? The answer changes, based on the situation and what I feel capable of.
- Make Lemonade. What can I do to build on the positive instead of just being “anti”? What can be my small contribution to building a new way? For example, I chose to share resources with my children’s teachers from Preschool through Middle School on age appropriate ways of celebrating Columbus Day and Thanksgiving which tell the whole truth and challenge us to build a community where all are valued. If you are interested in exploring more, here are some places to start:
- UUA Website: http://www.uua.org/multiculturalism/dod/114099.shtml
- Teaching Tolerance www.tolerance.org
- Melissa MacKinnon, [email protected], Director of Religion Education at the First UU Society of Schenectady, NY has been active in local education and advocacy as well as participated in a GA workshop on the Doctrine of Discovery.
Lifespan Faith Development Consultant
St. Lawrence and Ohio Meadville Districts