Thanksgiving is a time of refuge for all of us.
Finding Refuge in Thanksgiving is nothing new.
It is in Thanksgiving that we find Refuge from the daily grind.
And maybe we find refuge from the particular individuation of the American nuclear family, as we join in extended family gatherings.
And maybe we also find refuge from the human animosities emanating within extended families that fail to communicate properly, like the miscommunication that leads to internecine war and strife within the Great Abrahamic family of faith that encompasses the three major religions of today. One can only hope…
Still we all hope that in Thanksgiving we’ll find a day’s refuge from discord and hate. A respite from hateful speech — much like it happens in our extended family of differing Peoples, Citizenry and Leaders, all living in this Great Land, together — from sea to shinning sea.
And maybe we find refuge from long held faulty beliefs, religious dogma, and theories about our past, present, and most importantly about our common future…
And we just might find much needed refuge of belief, because as we’re about to celebrate a holiday that honors a time when Native people of an ancient and bountiful land extended a helping hand to hopeless refugees who found themselves stranded on these shores without provisions and food — these differing beliefs were tested and cast aside — even if for a moment — in order to bridge the human need.
After all, it was these “strange” Native Americans who helped these newcomers survive the harsh New England winters by giving them vital aid in the form of friendship, food, and solace.
And it was our own forefathers, those struggling refugees, who received sheltering help from the natives, that we’ve come to remember as Thanksgiving Day Feast. It was this timely Help, that allowed our forebears to survive and thrive in this great country.
So it is a timely reminder these days of a beautiful and radiantly crisp Autumn, as we see the dead leaves and the rustic colors — we are called to remember and celebrate the giving exchange of food, aid, and shelter, that has created the Thanksgiving Feast.
It is this honorable conduct that we are called to remember when we are faced with the terrible decision of how we are going to deal with the new refugees arriving on our shores.
And as we gather with other natives, friends, and family, in order to celebrate, the feast of Thanksgiving – it may be worth taking a moment to see how that tradition is being honored today away from stuffed turkeys and gravy boats, and how we can also invite a refugee in our house for this feast of Thanksgiving…
Let’s start from there and let’s hope that Divine Wisdom will guide us to the right decisions.
Inviting a refugee family or a single person to share in our Thanksgiving is obviously a small step towards understanding the future of our Communities — but it also one of the biggest things we can do to shape public policy around the Refugee Issue currently being discussed in this Great Nation.
Namely whether to offer true Thanksgiving, and accept refugees fleeing prosecution, death, and violence, from war ravaged Syria — or to turn them away at the doors of Forgiveness and Forgetfulness, and let them perish along with our own Consciousness.
And we can be better than that even…
We can be better than those violently stopping the stream of “human refuge” as some have called the “exodus” which emanates from Syria over the last two years, and that is now finally reaching Europe’s Brandenburg Gate, and Paris’ Arrondissments.
Yes, it has been a steady flow of refugees coming from Syria and Turkey into Greece and Europe — for many months now. And it’s been years that the flow has been a trickle. Bow now that it is a veritable river of human refuge — it is being drastically re-evaluated as it arrives in the “more” European capitals, and in the core of Europe, coming in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris…
Now fear reigns supreme… all over Europe.
Fear of the lesser, browner, and weaker people in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, is nothing new.
But fear of those wandering folks in Washington — is.
PS: We have convened a Conference in Seattle about this subject and want to invite you to participate by RSVP here at the Churchill Society: http://www.meetup.com/ChurchillSociety/events/226952393/
Because we ought to discuss with Courage where we are heading, since…
America, the perennial Republic of Immigrants, always welcoming and always uplifting all of it’s children — has now apparently come of age and feels that demurring from it’s principles is acceptable…
What we happen to forget though is that when America demurres from it’s principles — it also demurres from it’s greatness.
Because today more than two dozen states, and nearly all of them with Republican governors, have stated clear opposition to accepting, protecting, or even housing Syrian refugees within their borders.
Contrast that with several other states with Democratic governors, who have stated they would act upon the law and intake such refugees as they are vetted and welcomed by the proper channels of the United States Immigration authorities.
The U.S. Congress predominantly conservative, is already moving to slow down the tide of refugees reaching these shores, and of course, there is already the substantial vetting process for admitting refugees, and truly “combat age” men only constitute a very small minority of such refugees, whereas families with small children are the vast majority. Nonetheless, refugee opponents rightly note that no immigrant and refugee vetting process is 100% perfect, and thus they argue that we should either delay or even abandon the idea of further re-settlement of refugees here in the United States of America.
The general point is that attitudes toward Syrian refugees are pretty much exactly the same as they have been toward any group seeking refuge within the U.S.
One particular sore point for opponents of admitting refugees is that these arguments tend to look horrible in hindsight. Strong majorities of Americans opposed accepting Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. The federal government was following public opinion when it turned away boats full of refugees; many subsequently returned to Europe and died in the Holocaust. Similarly, Western state governors who stood against the admission of Japanese Americans when those citizens were removed from their West Coast homes during World War II, look small-minded and racist with the passage of time.
Today’s opponents of taking in Syrian refugees generally reject such historical comparisons, however. (Although see the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia.) Yes, it was wrong to reject previous rounds of immigrants, because it turns out those groups were peaceful and just sought to live out their lives and make a living in the United States. But this current round of refugees, the thinking goes, is somehow too different. They follow a religion that is more prone to violence, they’ll never properly assimilate, they reject our values, they have an instinctive hatred for the U.S., etc.
The thing is, basically every ethnic or racial group that has sought to come to the U.S. has been, at some point, singled out for being too different. Nineteenth-century journalists like Thomas Nast warned of the evils of Catholicism and the degeneracy of the Irish. Indeed, the Irish were widely caricatured as sub-humans who were incapable of understanding or participating in democracy and preferred the dictatorship of the Papacy.
The Chinese immigrants of the late 1800s were generally seen to be of such a different race as to be unable to assimilate in American culture. In the early 1900s, Jews fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe to America were widely rumored to have alien traditions, to harbor anarchic or communist tendencies, and to be a sort of fifth column undermining the U.S.
Even those later fleeing Nazi Germany were believed to have Nazi agents among their ranks. More recently, some have claimed that Mexican Americans seem unable or unwilling to assimilate into the dominant culture and are responsible for a disproportionate share of crime.
The fears confronting a number of groups seeking passage to the U.S. over its history have never been more starkly contrasted to the advancement of our Moral sentiment, and our ingrained Responsibility, that we feel today in light of the Refugee Crisis, at this time of Thanksgiving…
Maybe the illusion shattering timeliness of this feast Holiday is worth this humble and pedestrian discussion, emanating from the Sanctuary State of Washington where I have taken refuge these days as well.