Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

. Thursday, November 22, 2007

As we gather with our families today to give thanks, let's take a moment to consider the origins of the feast. The tradition we continue today began almost 400 years ago as destitute immigrants gathered in Virginia and Massachusetts to give thanks for their safe arrival (Virginia) and a bountiful harvest (Plymouth). In many important respects, therefore, Thanksgiving celebrates a fresh start of the first wave of immigrants that built the US.

Then, as now, the native population did not always welcome the new arrivals (e.g., the Indian Massacre of 1622). At other times, however, the native population helped the new arrivals adapt. This native uneasiness toward new residents has shaped America's approach to new arrivals ever since. Those who come early and become "native" grow wary of those who follow in their wake. Current unease about "illegals" is thus only the latest manifestation of a centuries-old pattern.

All of which leads me to suggest that as we gather to feast today try to remember how it is we came to be here; most of our ancestors came to this country to escape a life of grinding poverty by moving to a land of seemingly unbounded opportunity. So too with today's new arrivals.


Happy Thanksgiving
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