Talking Turkey

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and while we gorge ourselves on turkey and sanitized history we are encouraged to give pause to think about what we have for which we are thankful. I do that frequently, so instead I’ll take the day’s myth as fact and examine what it says about the America in which we wish we lived.

The story goes that a friendly tribe of natives taught the settlers at Plymouth how to grow crops in the region. Out of gratitude the settlers then invited the natives to a feast where they shared their bounty. As far as the myth is concerned all lived happily ever after in harmony, and that’s as it should be. Myths are to enlighten and inspire us, not to ruin everything with facts.

So let’s rephrase these events and take a fresh look at them.

Start with a group of people, we’ll call them Americans, who have been in an area (America) long enough to have established themselves and their culture. These Americans have a good idea of how things work there, and they live in relative comfort.

Enter another group of people. These people are from elsewhere and for certain reasons have decided to seek a new start in America. Because they have emigrated from their homeland, we shall call them immigrants.

You see where I’m going with this, yes?

Now these immigrants arrive in America, and they don’t have the necessary skills to be immediately successful there. Seeing that these immigrants need some help, the Americans go out of their way to give them the assistance needed to learn how to survive in America. They expect nothing in return. They just act on their compassion.

The immigrants incorporate what they need from the Americans. They maintain their separate culture, but they are no longer alone. They give back to the Americans, and a bridge is formed between two groups of people. America is the same, but Americans have changed. The community has grown.

It’s a beautiful myth, and I’m thankful that I live in a country where it might one day become reality. Until then, I’ll reflect on this dream and continue to believe.

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