A Thanksgiving to Think About
Author Anthony Lee
In light of recent events, it is hard not to contemplate the current state of affairs. Everyday, a barrage of horrific headlines overflows the news. Acts of terror devastate communities. Protests turn violent in colleges across the nation. Families and relatives divide over beliefs, values, ideologies, and politics. Friends become enemies. Succinctly, ours is a torn, tormented world, and we are a divided people.
As the world becomes more turbulent, we become more troubled. Even as the holiday season approaches, a latent aura of gloom seems to surround and suppress the usually festive mood of the season. We have fallen into the a pit of pessimism and can see nothing but the darkness around; we have lost our focus on the light above. However, one day long ago in the United States, such was not the case.
Centuries ago, a group of haggard men, women, and children landed on the shores near Plymouth, Massachusetts. They were the Pilgrims, and they had fled from religious persecution in England. The refugees tried desperately to sustain their floundering settlement, but by the first winter, 45 of the original 102 immigrants died. Yet when all hope seemed lost, a miracle appeared that delivered them to salvation.
His name was Samoset, and he was a Native American from the nearby Wampanoag tribe. Samoset garnered support from the Wampanoag, who supplied and traded with the Pilgrims, and persuaded Squanto to teach the settlers how to hunt and farm. By the end of the fall of 1621, the Plymouth Colony had successfully harvested enough to last the winter, and as an expression of thanks to their benefactors, they invited the Wampanoag to a feast. Both men and women, English and Native American, sat down — together — to celebrate life, joy, and prosperity. We now remember this union as the first Thanksgiving.
Today, it is very uncommon to find such communions between people of different backgrounds. Unfortunately, we have chosen to build walls around ourselves and our “truths.” We do not to attempt to understand the viewpoints of those outside our walls; as a result, our interactions with others are strained, cold, and sometimes violent. Can we not work toward understanding and acknowledging others and their views? Can we not work together toward the common goal of bettering humanity? Can we not set aside our pride and listen?
This Thanksgiving, let us tear down the walls that separate us. Let us have the courage to work toward a more unified, mindful world. Let us — for once in a very long time — gather together in communion at the table of humanity.
By Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the Charter School of Wilmington or the CSW Newspaper Club.