Today I found this image on my Face Book time line.
This is in response to the current hot political topic of the day regarding the ever growing Syrian refugee crisis. It is also collides with the fast approaching American Thanksgiving holiday.
Every American knows the Thanksgiving story.
A small ragtag group fleeing religious persecution in Europe embark on a long and dangerous journey in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families. They are leaving their homes, their people, everything they, understand, and find familiar.
After months of traveling the ocean in and old barely seaworthy craft they landed upon an alien shore.
The refugees did not land in empty territory. People already lived there. They had their own families, their own language, culture and tradition. The new arrivals were ignorant of the current occupants of their new land.
The Wampanoag people were quite familiar with the new arrivals for they were not the first people from Europe. At the time the Wampanoag were recovering from a dreadful plague that had wiped out fully 90% of their population the year before. Even with the knowledge of the temperament of the new arrivals and the origins of the sickness that had caused so much death there was room and the Wampanoag gave the refugees land to build a new life.
The new arrivals were far from the first. Merchant and fishing vessels traveled the coast quite frequently and from time to time captured slaves. Once such slave was named Tisquantum. He was captured and sold into slavery in Spain. It took him 5 years to return home only to find most of his people dead by disease. Most people know him as Squanto.
Even though he had been captured, transported half way across the world, sold into slavery only to escape and spend years getting home. He and the rest of his nation looked upon the refugees with feeling and compassion. Squanto stayed in the new settlement, he gave instructions on how to grow local crops and served as translator between the new settlement of Plymouth and the Wampanoag nation.
The Wampanoag had every reason and every right to tell the Pilgrims to move on. They had every right to tell them, no you can’t come here or stay here. They had no reason to trust the new arrivals and in hindsight they should not have granted the pilgrims anything.
But the Wampanoag did give them land, and food, and assistance even knowing it was not in their best interest. They provided because helping those in need is the right thing, the human thing to do. It did not matter to the Wampanoag that the new arrivals did not speak their language, did not pray to their gods, wore strange clothing, and had different behaviors. It mattered that the new people were lost, tired, sick, and searching for safety and comfort. The Wampanoag did the right thing. They did the human thing.
America can be kind. America can be more like the Wampanoag and hundreds of other Native Nations that had compassion for their fellow humans. Or we can be more like Trump and turn our backs to those in the most need of comfort and safety. We can make the world a better place. We can care for other humans even if they are not us. It is the right thing to do. The human thing to do.