A Red Feather In Paradise:
The Story of Pitcairn Island
A Rabid Fundamentalist Column
John W. Cowart
Want to get away from it all?
I mean from it ALL. That nagging boss. That frustrating job. Those bills. All the hassles. All the stress. Away from everything that bugs you.
Away to a fresh start.
Away to a new life in a new place.
A place where life is easy – say a South Sea island paradise. Year-round warm weather. A lagoon teeming with fish. Hula girls. Coconuts for the taking. Breadfruit growing on trees. Sweet potatoes growing in rich volcanic earth. Hollow logs dripping with honeycombs. Bushes laden with tasty berries, Barbequed pork luaus. Exotic birds singing at dawn. Soft tropical breezes. Surf sounds. Palm trees. Sandy beaches. Starry nights.
How would life be if you could leave where you are and go to a place like that?
Sounds like all your problems would be over.
Well, that once actually happened to a group of people – no, not the folks on Gilligan’s Island. It really happened in history to the sailors of HMAV Bounty. (The HMAV stands for His Majesty’s Armed Vessel).
In 1789 the men of the Bounty, lead by Masters Mate Fletcher Christian, mutinied against Captain Bligh, the man whose very name came to signify a cruel, unreasonable boss, a mean, harsh, petty tyrant.
Fed up with his oppression, rule and discipline, the crew* took over the ship, put the captain and his cronies adrift in an open boat, picked up some friendly fellows and girls in Tahiti**, and sailed off to seek a new life.
On January 15, 1790, the Bounty with 27 people aboard anchored in a bay on Pitcairn Island, an uninhabited tropical paradise, one of the world’s most remote.
They got away from it all.
What did they find?
Year-round warm weather. A lagoon teeming with fish. Hula girls. Coconuts for the taking. Breadfruit growing on trees. Sweet potatoes growing in rich volcanic earth. Hollow logs dripping with honeycombs. Bushes laden with tasty berries, Barbequed pork luaus. Exotic birds singing at dawn. Soft tropical breezes. The music of the surf. Palm trees. Sandy beaches. Starry nights.
They liked what they found and burned their boat.
They’d left behind harsh discipline, unreasonable demands, petty tyranny, everyday problems, frustrations, stress, hassles.
They’d left behind everything but their own hearts.
And you know what the Bible says about that: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it”.
But on the island the mutineers and their company had every thing their hearts could desire.
Before eleven months had passed the first four murders had taken place.
A red feather started the killing.
No one knows for sure exactly what happened but according to some accounts, several of the women were out gathering berries when two of them spotted a red feather at the same time.
Each wanted the feather for her hair.
A squabble ensued.
People chose sides.
A fight broke out and four men were killed***.
Mutineers started treating the Polynesian men as slaves.
Arguments grew over the division of land and women.
Several children were born*.
Somebody build a liquor still.
Plots and counterplots developed.
This one killed that one and took his woman. One man committed suicide. One woman murdered in revenge for a perceived slight.
Within three years, only 14 adults, four men and ten women, remained alive****.
Now, what is my point in recounting this sad history?
Simply this: unless the heart within us is changed, then nothing changes.
No matter where we go, we go with us.
A change in environment matters little; it’s a change in us, in our hearts, that makes a difference.
But that’s ok.
God can make that internal change.
Here is His promise through the Prophet Ezekiel:
“ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God”.
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