I am a direct descendant of Robert Cushman, the principal financier of the Mayflower. This essentially means that he gathered investors to support the endeavor to sail for freedom to worship in the Puritans self-proclaimed tradition. It was the Americas they spied: an untamed large hunk of geography that promised opportunity—-Freedom to live and worship in their own way. But make no mistake, the operative word is freedom here; worship is merely a subset of that.
THE LARGER STORY
The nub of the story is simple. After being driven out of England, they settled for a time in what is now the Netherlands before getting enough investors to finance the whole endeavor. Once funded, they laboriously made their way to “the new world” and settled. A long, hard winter ensued, ultimately ending with a depleted community due to disease and starvation. I’m guessing a bit of disillusionment entered into the group as well. It seems self-determination came at a price.
There are many books about all this history but my primary point in this little bit is the pilgrim’s belief in some level of freedom within a more democratic tradition whether they named it that or not. They rejected being dictated by a king or group of elites calling all the shots. Instead, they possessed a sense of self-governing which in our current American climate is now in peril. While still limited in actualizing, the pilgrims were not all Puritans either, having a few “non-believers” among the group who sailed on the ship as well.
WHAT WOULD ROBERT THINK
Oh, if Robert were here now! What would he think? What would any of those brave souls think about our custodianship of freedom and democracy now? What would the investors think? A bad return as we’ve squandered their efforts? (Though I guess not completely since we’ve had several hundred years of a reasonably good run.)
Sadly, in the current political climate there are so many distortions, so many lies, so much manipulation of and by the media, it’s staggering. While an aspect of technology’s weaknesses (as well as strengths) were and are inevitable, without Truth being a guiding premise, I don’t know how the principles of the proverbial Mayflower ship spirit gets turned around.
And because there’s the illusion of money and power in deceit, too many are drawn to the game like moths to a flame. But worst of all is the loss of integrity and honest “we’re all in this together dialogue.” Division through us-versus-them is the driving principle these days. How is it that victimhood has become our most prized currency? How is it that snake oil salesmen such as Trump, Fox News, DeSantis and most of the Republicans in power (though not all) have sold out for silver like Judas?
EGO IS AS EGO DOES
At times I remember that this is the ways of the world, the ways of the ego, ravenous on distortion and self interest. Call me naive but the selling of souls through victimization remains shocking to me still. And selling is what it’s all about, for the sake of power and influence. How easy mankind is, how easily seduced; it is the modern day apple in the garden! With the recent indictment of Donald Trump, victim in chief, leader of the pathological, I pray America is on a path to reconciliation. I pray we can all be “saved” by truth and a judicial system that has suffered its own tainting in recent years. But I’m not sure I’d bet the bank on it just yet.
The situation would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Laugh or cry, which will I do today? Oddly, I lurch back and forth between the two states and emotions. Hope or dispair, I can’t decide. Instead I perpetually swing suspended between the purgatorial energy of it all. My nature is one of hope but all too often despair sets in when viewing the overwhelming energy of distortion with mass media as its handmaiden. Or shall I say the pimp!
However our democratic tradition and our system of justice unfolds in the coming months and years, we do have a chance to redeem ourselves and all that our forefathers sacrificed. I feel the presence of Robert Cushman at this moment. I can’t tell if that’s a wink I see him making or a tear falling from his eye.