Being of course Canadian, my American history is at best foggy.  Other than studying for my citizenship test, I have learned very little about good ole’ Americolgy.  So doing my civic duty I have learned some interesting things about the voyage of the largely unknown partner ship of the Mayflower; the Speedwell.  

Initially, the plan was for the voyage to be made in two vessels, the other being the smaller Speedwell, Separatists bought the ship Speedwell in Holland, and boarded it at Delfshaven. They then sailed to SouthamptonEngland to meet the Mayflower, which had been chartered by the merchant investors. In Southampton they joined with other Separatists and the additional colonists hired by the investors.

The two ships began the voyage on August 51620, but the Speedwell was leaky and returned to Dartmouth to be refitted at great expense and time. On the second attempt, Mayflower and Speedwell sailed about 100 leagues beyond Land’s End in Cornwall, but the Speedwell was again found to be leaky. Both vessels returned to Plymouth where the Speedwell was sold.

It would later be revealed that there was in fact nothing wrong with the ship. The crew had sabotaged it in order to escape the year long commitment of their contract.

Eleven people from the Speedwell boarded the Mayflower, leaving 20 people to return to London while a combined company of 103 continued the voyage. For a third time, the Mayflower headed for the New World.

Source: Wikipedia

Now the rest of the story…  The story (or the myth) of what happened to those who braved the Atlantic was they landed at Plymouth Rock and had a hearty turkey dinner together with the local natives and lived happily ever after in this great land of America.  

True history reveals that only 53 of the original 102 passengers actually survived and were able to call the new frontier home.  Half of the wide eyed adventurers had met their end being ravaged by various contagious diseases such as scurry, pneumenia and tuberculoisis.

But back to those 20 passengers on the Speedwell who chose, well, they chose to go home.  Back to their homes, back to warmth of their fireplace hearths, the comfort of a land that was known.  

Now being the arm chair history quarterback perched on the edge of the Wikipedia universe it is easy for me to see how fortunate those 20 were.  Saved from uncertainty, saved from unease, saved from disease, death and loss.

But I also see how they were saved from the adventure of a lifetime, the chance to make history, the challenge of the unknown, the uncertain and the unseen.  

So for half of the passengers of the Mayflower their end was death, but it was death in the pursuit of something, something greater, something undefined by the conventions of the times.  They died breaking into the New Frontier.  

 History always teaches us that,

“Nothing of the new is ever obtained without there being a dying to the old.”

My problem is that dying is so dang hard.  Guess that is why it is called a life of faith. 

mayflower

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I was reading Will Durant’s book The Life of Greece.  I came across an arresting quote that reflects to me some of the themes we are seeing in America today.  Some of the statements are eerie and could be taken out of any newspaper today.

“We have tried to show that the essential cause of the Roman conquest of Greece was the disintegration of Greek civilization from within.  No great nation is ever conquered until it has destroyed itself. Deforestation and the abuse of the soil, the depletion of precious metals, the migration of trade routes, the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties, the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population, the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops, the human and physical waste of fratricidal war, the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevolutions.”

Sounds eerily familiar?  I would like to numerate the above and provide the modern day equivalent for today in the civilization of America.

1. “Deforestation and abuse of the soil”

WHEN SOIL GOES “MONO”

Nowadays, however, many farmers do things differently. They practice monoculture, planting the same crop year after year. Doing so may help the farmer survive economically, but it takes a heavy toll on the soil. Soil degradation may result.

Without natural ways of replenishing soil nutrients, farmers grow increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers can increase crop yields, but they affect the soil food web. Over time, the microorganisms become depleted and soil loses its vitality and is no longer full of life.

Something else happens too. Lacking microbes to create tiny waterways and organic matter that binds soil together, the soil becomes less porous, and more water runs off the surface. So some farmers need to use more irrigation water for their crops.

Problem is, irrigated land is often prone to salinization. Unlike rainwater, irrigation water contains salts and leaves salt deposits behind when it evaporates. The amount of salt that is left on the soil may be modest at first, but it builds. Once the land becomes too salty, growing anything on it is almost impossible. Ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia disappeared in large part because their farmland contained too much salt.

2.  “the depletion of precious metals”

Off shore drilling.  See Restoring Eden for an active campaign.

3. “the migration of trade routes”

Need we all recognize that China is stepping forward as one of the world’s main trading partners and globalization is taking America from being the center stage of trade.

4. “the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties”

Political Disorder: Partisan politics, right wing vs left wing, christian fundamentalism vs liberal media, disorder is everywhere.

Corruption: Larry Craig and bathroom shenanigans, Oval office trysts, Exxon, corporate backscratching and cover ups to keep the financial system the right side up with the rich getting richer.

Dynasties: The Bushes, The Clintons, The New York Yankees.  All names that bring a sour, been there done that look.

5. “the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population”

Did you know Americans have lost 2.84 trillion dollars in equity.  That is $2,840,000,000.00 in lost money.  This will likely result in more unscrupulous behavior, more shady business practices and more cut throat capitalism to gain back some of that lost equity.  More than we know morals and money are very closely linked.

6. “the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops”

Now this one is easy… can anyone say Blackwater.  Modern day mercenaries who are not responsible to any governing authority or discipline.  Interesting.

7. “the human and physical waste of fratricidal war”

Now I am not going to talk about the current wars, but rather focus on the other invisible wars that exist in our civilization.  Drug war, sex trade war, child abuse war.  These wars are real, are happening in our cities and are sucking the life out of us.

8. “the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevoltions”

Ability today is still hamstrung by race, religion, sex and politics.

SO THERE WE HAVE IT.

The American kingdom is not much different than that of ancient Greece.  And the simple question is…

Anyone ready for a new Kingdom?  And a new King?  I sure am…

Although I am a dual citizen this is a shout out to all the cool Canadian things…  Some of which only true Canadians will understand.

So, what do Canadians have to be proud of?

1. Smarties.

2. Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp.

3. The size of our footballs fields and one less down.

4. Baseball is Canadian.

5. Lacrosse is Canadian.

6. Hockey is Canadian.

7. Basketball is Canadian.

8. Apple pie is Canadian.

9. Mr. Dress-up coulda kicked Mr. Rogers butt.

10. Tim Hortons kicks Dunkin’ Donuts butt.

11. In the war of 1812, started by America, Canadians pushed the Americans back…past their ‘White House’. Then we burned it…and most of Washington, under the command of William Lyon McKenzie who was insane and hammered all the time. We got bored because they ran away, so we came home and partied…Go figure..

12. Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany.

13. We have the largest English population that never ever surrendered or withdrew during any war to anyone, anywhere.

14. Our civil war was a bar fight that lasted a little over an hour.

15. The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing… but showed up just in time to get caught.

16. We knew plaid was cool far before Seattle caught on.

17. The Hudsons Bay Company once owned over 10% of the earth’s surface and is still around as the worlds oldest company.

18. The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes.

19. We still know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo. (Ever heard of prairie oysters?)

20. We don’t marry our kin-folk.

21. We invented ski-doos, jet-skis, velcro, zippers, insulin, zambonis, the telephone and short wave radios that save countless lives each year.

22. We ALL have frozen our tongues to something metal and lived to tell about it.

23. A Canadian invented Superman.

BUT MOST IMPORTANT!

24. The handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on. OOOoohhhhh Canada!!

Oh yeah… and our elections only take one day.

Happy Canada Day!