Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hysterically Correct

I am compelled to continue my posting about the Mayflower Compact today since, at barely 9 a.m., I have already read two articles in which the Pilgrims were lauded for crafting a document responsible for the foundation of American democracy. It is good to recall the Pilgrims' search for freedom to practice their religious beliefs, especially in these times of right wing intolerance for any belief system other than Christian evangelical fundamentalism. But, please, remove the soft focus lens for a minute and view them as they were - products of their time and culture. The Mayflower Compact was drafted in a desperate moment by desperate men. Women, of course, did not sign the Compact. They had no legal rights in the New World and wouldn't for another three centuries. Two of the indentured servants were forced to sign the document to make it appear more legitimate. Immediately afterwards, a party of men disembarked from the Mayflower and set out to find food and firewood. They came upon a clearly identifiable burial ground of the native population and promptly pillaged and destroyed the sacred site and made off with stores of grain that the Indians needed for their own winter survival. That the Pilgrims survived at all that first winter is due more to pure luck and the peaceful nature of the local natives, and less to their own intelligence or ingenuity or democratic vision than most people imagine. Personally? I think there is more to be learned from the behavior of the non-Christian American natives that winter of 1620-21, and I'll be raising a glass to them on Thursday.


Post a Comment

<< Home