Thursday, August 20, 2015

Strangers in a Foreign Land

"Linked Together"
- in the wilderness -

Over the past few days the news has been filled with all sorts of mean-spirited and spiteful rhetoric about strangers and “aliens” in our native land. The political rhetoric of the day generated by so-called “presidential hopefuls” has touched off all sorts of passionate feelings about sending unwanted immigrants back to Mexico. Many established American citizens are raising an indignant outcry claiming that these “foreigners ” are taking away our jobs,  “eating our lunch before we ever get to eat it ourselves.”

My guess is that the loudest and most strident calls for building walls at the border and booting out immigrants are probably coming from people who call themselves “Bible-believing Christians.” It seems to me, however, that maybe those folks ought to read the Bible they believe in a bit more carefully, especially that one passage in the Book of Exodus:

You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way.
Remember you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

But as I see it, even if you aren’t a “Bible-believer,” the principle of  “welcoming foreigners”  and “showing hospitality to immigrants” lies at the very bedrock of what this country is all about.

In fact, were it not for the practice of “welcoming strangers,” the European ancestors who were the “forebearers” of American culture would never have survived in this country when they first immigrated here from distant and foreign lands.

When the Pilgrims from England first arrived on these “American” shores they had no idea as to how difficult and even treacherous their new life would be in this strange wilderness they called “New England.” Within a few months of their arrival the English immigrants would experience a winter unlike anything they had ever before imagined.  They had no knowledge of how to build shelter or dress protectively in such a harsh climate, the seeds they brought over with them wouldn’t grow in their new environment,  and to make maters worse, eventually they all starting dying from new diseases that attacked their bodies for which they had no known medicine.

After about a year, the immigrants from England were cold, hungry, homeless, sick and dying - the prospects of their continued survival were slim to none.

But then the native Wampanoag people who had inhabited this land for generations before the English arrived took pity on these uninvited strangers. They shared their food with them, taught them how to hunt and how to build protective shelter, they gave them seeds that would grow and medicine that would cure their sickness and disease.

It is no exaggeration to say that, were it not for the kindness of the Native American People, the uninvited immigrants from European shores could never have survived, and America as we know it today would have never come to be.

Whenever I see those news reports showing the many faces of “established American citizens” spouting off hateful curses against the unwanted immigrants from another land who are usurping the resources of this country, I think about the days when “America” was first established, and I remember how immigrant ancestors were saved because native peoples were kind to uninvited strangers.

It seems to me that if these “United States” are ever to prevail, we must once again rekindle that original kindness of spirit upon which this country was first built.

Jesus once said:

I was hungry and you gave me food
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink
I was a stranger and you welcomed me

Whatsoever you do to these, the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me.

This is probably yet another good scripture passage for Bible-believing Christians to read nowadays.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Paul, I was touch by the title "Strangers in Foreign Land", as same is the title of a poem I made many years ago, when I was in Egypt.. referring myself as the subject. I was there for 25 years till 2014, but now back home to my native land.

    While reading the whole script you write, same ideas come into my mind, as how I look at America by now, and the hardships foreigners face mentioning the severity of its rules especially to foreigners. I could imagine, the dream of being an American citizen, or had reached USA is a pride to many, while to some are tears especially on papers, as you mention...citizens thrown back to Mexico. As a person concerned about people of the world I feel so sad to see, even in films, as well as in real that "unwanted immigrants who in one way or another had contribute to the success of America today.

    You are very right to mention the original Americans of the many states of today have kind hearts, and had sense of helping the English European migrants, who they say in history are the poor ones in England, but seek opportunity in foreign land, America.

    I include your last para here, agreeing with your phrase: "It seems to me that if these “United States” are ever to prevail, we must once again rekindle that original kindness of spirit upon which this country was first built."

    I salute you in your writings of very wide scope and generally gives ideas on particular time and place, as they subject maybe.

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    1. Maura..thank you so much for your generous and insightful comments.

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