Our history comes at a cost

I t’s the time of year when Christmas decorations and toy ads become ubiquitous, which means only one thing — Thanksgiving is almost here. We can already smell the turkey and potatoes cooking, and each passing day (and its corresponding 10-degree temperature drop) increasingly reminds us that the semester is almost complete.

We have a lot to be thankful for, and it’s important we take time out of our ever-busy schedules to remember how we got here. Regardless of the prevalence of religion, patriotism or ancestry in your life, there’s no denying the value of a day to look back on the past year.

Thank your mom, your roommate, your God or yourself — just slow down a little and put things in perspective.

While you’re at it, go back further than the past year, all the way to the first Thanksgiving. We tend to picture it as a merry, hand-holding celebration when the pilgrims feasted with their new allies, the Massasoit and the Wampanoag. Perhaps it was, but what came soon after was a harrowing history of bloodshed.

What we choose to fondly remember as the settling of this nation was, in fact, an invasion that wiped out entire nations of American Indians. History is told by the winners, and the absence of the American Indian cultures on this continent seems to show who won.

It wasn’t a fair fight. The settlers came with guns, small pox and a superiority complex that told them any society that didn’t resemble Western life wasn’t a civilization at all.

Even worse, they brought fear — fear of a new land, a new way of life and new neighbors who looked and sounded so different from anyone they had seen before. They didn’t understand their new neighbors and didn’t want to.

We comfort ourselves by claiming no connection, that our ancestors came later, beckoned forth by Lady Liberty as their ships docked at Ellis Island. But what happened here happened elsewhere. Africa and the Middle East are in shambles because settlers did not understand non-Western civilizations and set up borders and governments without taking into consideration the cultures they were imposing their beliefs on.

Americans don’t have to face the damage done here because the Indian nations that survived are mere shadows of the past.

We perpetuate the crimes committed here and elsewhere by teaching one-sided history. If we start to honestly teach children their history, perhaps we can prevent them from making the same mistakes our ancestors did.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.