“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
— W. Clement Stone
The story of the first Thanksgiving is described as two groups of people coming together to give thanks for the blessings in their lives.
These people had very different histories, cultures, customs, languages, habits and looks. At different points they held deep, fearful suspicions of one another, but somewhere along the way they broke through those concerns and earned a respect for one another that can still be a lesson today.
Hundreds of years ago it made sense that cultures and ethnic groups seemed very foreign to one another. As nations explored the world around them, they encountered many different people, with barriers to communication and differences that made understanding one an- other or learning about one another nearly impossible.
Why is it, though, that today we seem as foreign to one another as people did 300 years ago?
Travel, history and technology have opened so many doors when it comes to being more worldly, but those things haven’t helped us overcome many of the hurdles that expose the less admirable parts of our nature.
We continue to be suspicious, fearful and make terrible assumptions about people different than we are. It is easier than ever to learn about others, but we tend to resist it as strongly as ever. What would have happened if the Native Americans and Pilgrims clung to such feelings so tightly more than 300 years ago? Neither side would have found benefit in conflict, and it is widely believed the newcomers to America would have perished.
The circumstances showed that an assumption of superiority as a culture or people meant little when it came to survival or thriving in a strange land. It showed there is always something that can be learned from others.
We should be reminded that no culture is truly superior to another. No people are smarter, stronger or able to put themselves above another without great risk to their future.
And why live in such a fearful, suspect state? Should we not focus on what we can learn from one another, how we can grow and benefit from understanding? Does it not make sense to assume as human beings we have much more in common than different regardless of our customs, skin color or religion?
Be thankful this holiday season, and use the time to seek out ways to share and come together rather than divide and pull away from others. This is the only way we thrive as a human population.