Column: ‘A World That Is A Work In Progress’

November 23, 2016

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

The story suggests that the ‘seeds’ of Thanksgiving Day took root in 1621, after the first corn harvest, by a group of settlers in America. Like all narratives this one contains a measure of irony, in the dance of good and evil.

The interlopers – aware from whom all blessings flow – invited some Native-Americans to join their celebration- raising the possibility of reconciliation. It wasn’t until 1789 that President Washington legislated an Observance; but the ‘holiday’ didn’t take root until around 1817.

On its face, the story seems contradictory. However, it does remind me of a tale I heard from Dick Gregory – renowned entertainer and civil rights activist – when I was a freshman in college.

In his conclusion, Gregory told us: ‘It’s not what we do but why we do it’. Upoun considerable reflection on Dick’s message, I experienced a personal shift which over time allowed me to develop a keener sense of generosity.

My parents had introduced me to the concept of ‘true North’ early in life, offering me key guideposts for my journey forward. My mother – Lorraine- showed me that I possessed this power, regardless of circumstances, as long as I maintained an attitude of gratitude.

It was with this approach that I began to learn to position my vessel, so no matter how stormy the weather, learning to ‘go with the flow’. Even in strong easterly breezes, we learnt from our ‘village’, how to travel to the west.

This meant that when our family budget was most stressed, we acted out of gratitude for what we did have; sharing – clothes, books, money -what we could – with neighbours who had greater need. In fact the homes in North Village had no locks in those days and neighbours had access to ‘borrow that proverbial cup of sugar’.

In addition to acting locally, my parents thought globally, doing their part for exemplar Sister Winona Jennings. She was a family-friend, a missionary of the local AME Church who set up a successful school and orphanage in Liberia in the 1960’s. Winona had taken gratitude to a whole new level.

It was that same spirit that was exemplified by better-known global icons. That sense of generosity leveraged the extraordinary movements led by Ghandi, Martin Luther King and others. These all, in the words of Mandela; demonstrated that it always seems impossible until it’s done.

As we reflect on the upcoming Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the potluck dinners served around the island during my adolescent years, raising funds for the Liberian project. We are grateful to our American neighbours for establishing this special Day of observance.

Today we a reminded that we still live in a world that is a work in progress. While most of it is beyond our control, we do have the power to choose – the ‘why’ –we can act rather than react. With such an attitude, we can collaborate, fashioning a future that benefits future generations.

- Glenn Fubler


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