Questions that occurred to me while on a home schooling field trip with the family to Yorktown and Williamsburg...
Jamestown: God blew the wind the opposite way to keep the ships from leaving England for days. Was this God's message that they should stop?
Was there any scenario, any remotely achievable framework of understanding, by which the European explorers could have entered the New World and worked toward a long term peaceful coexistence with the natives? Could there have been developed a Cherokee state, a Powhatan state, etc that could have existed as equals with Virginia, Massachusetts, etc? What enormous mindset shift would have been required for such a thing to be possible? In other words, what were the barriers to any scenario in which the natives could have continued their societies alongside the white people? Was such a thing impossible? What was truly righteous? The social structure of those traveling from England sounded abhorrent, where the landed gentry assumed they would do no work, and many of the travelers assumed they would not need to really put down roots. They sounded like they expected to just land, gather valuable resources, and return in short order. There seems to be so much assumption of luxury and entitlement in that.
What did God want to happen? What was He doing in Europe? What was He doing in the New World? Did anyone obey Him? If so, who stopped the work He wanted done?
Williamsburg: What goes through the mind of a man who would choose likely death over his current circumstances? When is such a chance of death worth taking when compared to a lack of a certain kind of "liberty"? How much of the American Revolution came about because the colonists had developed certain expectations because they were British citizens, and those expectations weren't met by a government acting illegally and contrary to established laws and practices? Were those laws and practices as inherently close to the ideal of what God would say is truly what it means to be human that there was no righteous and godly alternative to laying down the soldiers'lives? Was the result (America) so valuable that it was worth those patriots' lives? What if the colonists had started out with different, lower expectations? Would King George III's behavior been accepted? If so, would it have gotten worse?
Was it really worth those soldiers' lives as the price for "liberty"?
Do I really only ask these questions because I am myself spoiled by luxury, by taking for granted the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of those who came before me? Is the affirmative answer ("yes, liberty is worth paying with the lives of soldiers, including your own") obvious to people who have the right assumptions about God and human life deeply rooted within them, and I just don't have those assumptions so rooted?
In both of these areas, could anything have been done differently, been done in a better way? And what can we learn from those situations today?
Separately, does a/the progressivist mindset so thoroughly assume the rightness of their current views, and the wrongness of views from the past, that they refuse to fully and critically examine both the events of the past and their received wisdom interpreting those events? It is commonplace these days to deconstruct traditional religious and patriotic understandings of the past. How often do they then go on to "doubt their doubts" about the past, to uncover the mixed and imperfect, but nonetheless well-reasoned and righteous-in-some-way, understandings and decisions made by people in the past? How often do they see the deeper, richer, flawed humanity in those they have demonized?