This is an old piece on a critical American value now being questioned. Where did our ideas of separation of Church and State come from? This core value is older than the United States itself – and comes from a different place than many expect.
It naturally comes up in my family just before Thanksgiving every year. The Puritans’ deliverance to America is billed as a search for religious freedom, something which is a core value of our nation. It’s good that we celebrate such a thing, but do the Puritans really deserve credit for it? The short answer is no, they do not, because they were seeking to establish their own theocracy – and across the ocean where no one would bother them seemed like the perfect place.
Religious tolerance as a founding principle of America came from a different source – William Penn, the “absolute proprietor” of Pennsylvania. The reason that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves is murky at best, but may have its origins in a prejudice that most of us wouldn’t even understand today. I think it’s time to correct that.
Thanksgiving is a truly great American holiday. It is a time when people from all over the world blend their traditions into one religious holiday celebrated by Christians, Jews, Moslems, and every other faith alike. To give thanks is universal, and what better way to celebrate deliverance to a land that to many is indeed the Promised Land.
But why is it in November? The very first day of Thanksgiving was held right after the harvest, on a day very similar to the Canadian Thanksgiving on October 12th. Why is it on a Thursday? The answer is that the nation itself was delivered from the horrors of war and recognized by the Treaty of Paris, owing a bit of time for the time it takes to cross the Atlantic and bring the joyous news. It was indeed a time to be thankful – but the story has the Hand of Providence all over it.
The days are shorter and the wind bites cold. This is the time of year for transition, from outward to inward, at least among boreal people in the middle of a vast continent. The endless possibilities of summer have closed down and the time comes for reflection.
That’s what the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, are really all about. America always has a lot to be thankful for but at the same time much to consider on a day apart. One of these is our public discourse and values, soon to be practiced around a large table for many people. Why do we place so much value on a hero who will save us? Why do we place so little faith in our own ability to make things better?
“The first casualty when war comes is the truth.”
– Sen Hiram Johnson (R-CA) (1917)
As Barataria has noted before, the United States appears to be at war. This war, primarily with Putin’s Russia, is a new kind of war with weaponized disinformation and division.
It is important to note, however, that the US is far from the only target, nor is it entirely innocent. More critically there are actors within the US who are exploiting the war for their own benefit – a new kind of war profiteering for a new kind of war. It is easy to compare this to McCarthyism, but the implications are potentially more vast.
Every year I post this. Respect for the most sacred American holiday, Thanksgiving, seems to be on the rise. But we still have far too many stores open, too many people are forced to work. Black Friday? It can be a family adventure and maybe a lot of fun. But Thanksgiving needs to be a day apart – and until it is I will keep posting this every year.
‘Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems,
That the holiday season was crafted from dreams.
There were visions of friendship and light through the land
As if darkness itself had been thoroughly banned.
But the times closed around as the blackness enveloped
And the victory of dark very slowly developed.
A lot has been said about this off-year election and the incredible sweep in Virginia. It’s important, because something is in the works. But what, exactly? Can Democrats capitalize on it nationally and apply a formula for sure victory in 2018 and beyond?
The short answer is “No.” There is no formula. If you look at who won and why, at least in the key swing elections, there is only one thing which is consistent. Good, hard-working people who were genuine and decent won consistently. Politics? Whatever.
As the investigation into Russian activities leading up to the 2016 election digs deeper, more details are emerging. One of the more shocking finds is that a popular internet personality, “Jenna Abrams,” never really existed. “She” was the product of the Internet Research Agency, the large troll farm operating in St Petersburg, Russia.
Her popular twitter and facebook accounts were quickly deleted with the revelation, leaving us without valuable forensic information. How was it possible for us to be duped? It’s hard to say if we don’t have the text in front of us. But wordpress doesn’t have the same policy, leaving “her” blog up for us to see to this day. It shows us just how sophisticated the operation was and how reasonable it was for so many to be duped.