The City on a Hill and the Teddy Bear

I wrote this last month for my nephew’s teddy bear project. It’s similar to Flat Stanley but you write a little note and then send this roaming Teddy bear to someone new. Content seems apropos, y’know.

Hey Teddy, you made it to Boston. Great news. Nice work, Teddy.

While you’re here, Teddy, I’d love to tell you about Boston’s founding and the creation of America’s identity. When the Puritans sailed over from merry ol’ England, which in the 17th century was not so merry for Puritans due to the religious intolerance that ruled the day, their leaders wanted to start over and start the right way in America. They dreamed of a better world. Lucky for them just across the ocean was The New World, a clean slate.

During their voyage, one famous Puritan leader, John Winthrop, gave a speech on his ship referencing the Biblical passage about “the city on a hill.” The Puritans wanted to build a shining example to the world on how to live. And that’s what they set out to do. Boston, the capital of the colony the Puritans founded in Massachusetts, was the first such “city on a hill.” Over time the idea of “the city on a hill” extended to the whole of the American colonies; 150 years later, it would be a guiding principle on which the United States of America was founded.

What does the “City on a hill” mean? Well it means that you strive to do better than the rest of the world, you strive to set an example worth following. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect. But it does mean you strive to earn everyone’s attention and respect and emulation. It’s a never-ending quest to improve and to lead. So in America, that means we’ve shown how democracy can work better than monarchies, how freedom and equality for all are ideals worth fighting and dying for, and how civil rights and social justice and societies that incorporate as many different types of people can be more successful than monocultures. And that’s just the first four centuries of our “city on a hill,” all starting with Boston.

Speaking of never-ending quests, it’s about time for Teddy to get on his way.

Happy travels, Teddy!

Missy and Will