This week marks the 400th anniversary of what is being called “The Turning Point.” After an arduous 10-week voyage across the Atlantic, the passengers and crew of the Mayflower sighted land – most likely the Nauset highlands somewhere around Orleans or Eastham – and headed south toward the Hudson River Valley, their destination. However, the Pollock Rip shoals east of Monomoy, soon to become infamous for their ship-wrecking propensity, forced the ship to turn around and head back north, where it found shelter in what we know today as Provincetown Harbor.
Thus, Chatham – or Monomoy, more accurately – became “the turning point” in the voyage of the Pilgrims, leading to the establishment of a colony in Plymouth, rather than New York. One unpredictable factor, a decision to be safe and not risk the vessel or the lives of the passengers, changed the history of the world. How different our country and its history would be had Plymouth been along the Hudson and not on Cape Cod Bay.
And now we are at another turning point in history.
Last week's election was not the same sort of unforeseen, history-changing event as that turning point 400 years ago. We knew one side or the other would win, and that the losing side would be unsatisfied and suspicious of the results. While the Pilgrims compromised on their settlement location, will the roughly one-half of the country whose candidate lost be willing to concede, to compromise and move forward for the benefit of all? Or will we end up even more divided than we have been during the past four years?
Perhaps we need a new turning point, a turning toward each other. We'd likely discover that despite the differences that appear to divide us, we all, deep down, have similar needs, beliefs and values. We all care about our families, our friends, our country, and want the best for all of them. Like the Pilgrims, we are all just looking for a safe harbor.