A New Compact?

Snowed and iced in today; no school. My teenager, lying on the couch, reads the news aloud, then shows her sister and me image after image. Although I’m hardly ancient, photos were never so prolific in my childhood. In her hand, she scrawled through the nations. It’s mesmerizing.

And yet.

Lying on the rug before the wood stove, listening, I thought of the Mayflower Compact, when those pilgrims, faced with starvation and illness, in a foreign and bitterly cold country, pledged to hold together for their survival. One of the aspects of small town Vermont politics I like best is coming together on metal folding chairs, looking directly at each other, and determining the course of our future, face to face. In these little towns, open meeting laws rule – not email and certainly not Facebook.

Don’t we need a contemporary version of the Mayflower Compact? Here’s a single mighty sentence.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

– Mayflower Compact, 1620

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

1 comment

  1. Wonder if a contemporary version would still include using God’s name. It makes me hopeful to know that there are some corners’ of the world that practice community in the real sense of the word. May it become infectious.

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