US v. THEM

Have you noticed how often the word “THEY” is used when talking about people who aren’t just like us? Well I have and it really got to me tonight. In reference to a post containing economic growth facts, and the first reply I got was “THEY have their own “facts” which are lies that THEY have been told. The media has THEM duped. I pray THEY see through the lies.” Sadly sooooo many people live, in an US v. THEM world and from my experience, its exhausting and gets you nowhere. Who are THEY anyways? All of this made me think about my 9th Great Grandmother Provided Southwick Gaskill, her family practiced Quaker religious beliefs, and at that time there was an US v. THEM between the Quakers and the Protestants/Puritans. They worshiped the same God but, they didn’t agree on how to do that. The Puritan church thought that EVERYONE had to worship as they did, attending services and paying tithes. Provided’s family didn’t like the way the Protestants worshiped and continued to worship the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength in their homes. They didn’t believe you needed a Priest, church, money system, or hierarchy, they didn’t agree with the need for compelling religious uniformity in society,,,  The Gaskill family had been arrested several times for not attending ‘church’ and not paying their tithes. CAN YOU IMAGINE? I can. You see, when Quaker missionaries arrived in the US in 1655 they were not liked, especially when they reached Massachusetts, where four Quakers were executed. They were persecuted because of their threat to the Puritan church and the Governmental authority. I wanted to understand all of this better because it seems so familiar.

I was never a big fan of history class, but I remember the basics, the refugees made an exodus and wanted to establish a country in which the separation of church and state, and the freedom to practice one’s faith without fear of persecution, was guaranteed. That guarantee was: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” but it didn’t start until 1789.

I found that The Friends/Quaker church started in England in 1652, by George Fox. By 1680 10,000 Quakers had been imprisoned and 243 had died of torture. The founder believed that the presence of God was found within people rather than in churches, all people, men and women equally. He experienced what he referred to as “openings,” instances in which he felt God was talking directly to him. In 1676 George Fox came to America to encourage the ending of slavery among Quakers.

There is so much more to the history, but back to my 9th great grandmother Provided. A poem was written about her experience by John Greenleaf Whittier in 1842-44. He thought that Provided’s mother’s name would be more poetic (I think Provided is perfect) so he named it The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick. There is speculation that he wrote this poem and others to prick the conscious of Quakers to end slavery. Here is the the history of the Southwick’s that Whittier used in his writing:

In 1657 Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were put in jail for hosting two visiting Quaker preachers,  Lawrence Southwick was found to be a member of the First Church of Salem and was released to be dealt with by the leaders of that church. Cassandra remained in jail for seven weeks and was fined forty shillings for possessing a paper written by their two visitors. The paper was considered heretical by Governor John Endicott and others.

In 1658 the Southwicks and their son Josiah were put in jail for twenty weeks for being Quakers.

In 1659, the two youngest children, Provided and her brother Daniel were sentenced to be sold as slaves in the Barbadoes for unpaid fines – fines related to their being Quakers. (see the featured picture) The sentence was not carried out, however because no one would buy them, no one would take them. After that, the entire family was sent to Shelter Island, New York together.

In 1660 Lawrence and his wife Cassandra died within three days of each other on Shelter Island.

I encourage you to read the poem it’s beautiful. http://myweb.northshore.edu/users/sherman/whittier/quaker/ft_cassandra_southwick.html

Of course their are times that US vs. THEM is a necessary scenario, however I believe it has invaded our lives and is polarizing our country from within. Not everything is black and white.

United we stand, divided we fall.     Aesop

“Love more, hurt less. Laugh more, cry less. Live more, worry less. Give more, take less. Hug more, fight less. And most important.. Remember that we are all one! We are love! I LOVE YOU ALL!”

― Abhishek Kumar

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