“Let us walk together to learn and reflect, to deepen our understanding so that we may earnestly begin to discern how to walk into the future. How we can live in a way that will bear good fruit for the earth and the people.”
The year 2020 will mark the 400th commemoration of the landing of the Mayflower on the shores of what is now Massachusetts. While as a church we will hold celebrations and re-enactments, it is important for us to also remember that the coming of Europeans to these shores was not good news for everyone. Indeed, as we reflect more and more on Racial Justice in the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island conferences, we must remember our original “original sin” that laid the groundwork for chattel slavery, Jim Crow and systemic racism as we know it today – the decimation of the indigenous peoples of this land beginning with the Wampanoag tribes of the Cape and east coast.
In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Why We Can’t Wait (1963), “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race…from the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode.”
Work has already begun to hold discussions and acknowledge this history – to permit ourselves to reject and feel remorse for this episode in our history. On October 7th people gathered in western Massachusetts at the Agape Community to honor the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock and to symbolically bury the Doctrine of Discovery as a tool of war. (see article here.) This coming November, in the week leading up to Thanksgiving (November 17-23), the Nipponzan Miyohoji Peace Pagoda and the Wampanoag people of the Cape will lead a walk from Provincetown to Plymouth, offering opportunities for dialogue and reflection.
In 2015 the General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed overwhelmingly to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery as a false and destructive pretense by which we to this day justify white, Christian dominance in this country. This walk is an open invitation to everyone to spend some time in prayer about how this and other systemic dominance has harmed all people, including white people, and how we have ravaged the land in our attempt to conquer it. We will begin to listen to one another, and enter into dialogue about how we might move forward together.
From the website: Why Walk?
We walk towards the year 2020 – a major marker in time. It marks 400 years since the landing of the Mayflower in Plymouth in 1620. A great mirror that, if we use the opportunity it gives us, we can look deeply, learn the true history and sincerely reflect on it. We can begin to understand the reality of the foundation of this country. We can understand how we need to change in order that a livable future may be created by our thinking and our actions.
Walking is a most natural human activity. Our feet move on the ground. We pray and move in harmony with the trees, the water, the sky and all the lives on the earth. Walking is a way to open the hearts and minds and to be with other people, moving together, with shared intention for the good.
For information on the walk you can go to their website or volunteer to help here.
To find out more about the Synod resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, along with a study guide and brief video, go here.
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