It’s the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. and for some people, this has come to signify the beginning of a period in our nation’s history during which the “white man” brought death and turmoil to the land’s native inhabitants. Already this morning, I have seen countless memes pop up all over social media in regards to the disease and oppression newcomers wreaked upon their new “friends” and being of (albeit distant) native ancestry, myself, my immediate reaction to such posts is often one of support.
However, I’d like to offer a new perspective on the issue if one can bear with me. In acknowledging that America has been the melting pot of various races and nationalities throughout its history, maybe we should also accept the reality that most of us whose families have been in this country for a while wouldn’t be here at all if our ancestors had done a “better” job of things. I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t exist. And potentially, you wouldn’t either.
Now, I am not condoning the behavior of our forebears by any means, nor the many travesties and injustices we’ve inflicted on each other over the centuries. I’m also not suggesting that my existence (or even yours) is so important that it somehow validates or justifies those travesties and injustices. However, instead of dwelling on what can’t be changed, maybe…..just maybe….we should focus on the here and now and be thankful that we have an opportunity to do better and be better. We’re not going to be perfect. We’re going to mess up just like those who came before us. We are human, after all. But in this moment….this day….we can choose to let go of our failures and move forward in appreciation of the opportunity that we have now….in this “timeline” of events that we currently find ourselves. And we can seek and attempt to do better.
As Buddha, Oscar Wilde and other wise humans of the past have advised: Do not dwell on the past. Your history cannot be erased, but your future has yet to be written. All we really have is this moment. So, make the most of it, with the future in mind, instead of worrying about (and holding onto) what cannot be changed.