Differences are embraced…
Once upon a time, there was a ship that sailed from England to America. This ship was called the Mayflower and it carried 102 passengers who all hoped to escape religious persecution and live lives of great prosperity in the new world. When the ship finally reached the new world, about half of the ill-equipped pilgrims died. One day, a kind Native American greeted them and brought another Native American with him, named Squanto. Squanto put differences aside and helped the pilgrims. He taught them how to grow crops and hunt, and he helped them forge an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe that lasted half a century. After the pilgrims’ first successful harvest, they held a large feast, celebrated with the Native Americans who had made their survival possible, and gave thanks for their good fortune.
389 years later, Americans still commemorate that first bountiful harvest with a day dedicated to eating turkey and all the fixin’s. But what about Squanto? After all, without his course in Survival in a Strange Land 101, there would be no Thanksgiving. In fact, the whole shape of American history would have been altered without his willingness to help others.
This Thanksgiving, when we go around the dinner table and say what we are thankful for, I will say that I am thankful for Squanto and the lessons I have learned from his actions. We may never know why Squanto chose to help the Pilgrims. After all, they were very different from the native people, with different values, a different culture, different dress, a different language, etc. Squanto didn’t allow the pilgrims’ dress or nationality or language to define them. He didn’t see how different they were; he saw people. We shouldn’t allow disabilities to define people any more than wearing a hat defines people, or eating turkey on a Thursday defines people.
On this Thanksgiving day, we at Tangram are thankful for all the people who have made our success possible. We are especially thankful for those we serve, who give us purpose and fresh perspective every day.