Fellow Lions of District 12-N,
Halloween is now behind us with all its ghosts and goblins and we are about to enter the season of Thanksgiving. This is a special time of year in which we remember the struggles of our country’s earliest settlers. Those hardy families, known as Pilgrims, risked everything to escape tyranny in their homeland for the promise of a new beginning in the New World. Conditions were brutal here and many of them perished. All would have perished if it hadn’t been for the help and caring from the people who were already living here. When I was growing up they were known as Indians. I’m not sure if that is still the politically correct term for them.
These Indians, it turned out, were much like the Pilgrims in many ways. They were loving parents of their children who wanted to see that their kids were nourished, that their kids would grow up in safety, and who wanted to be able to teach them the ways of their people and to enjoy the life their Heavenly maker had set out for them. The Pilgrims wanted the same thing and had risked everything to find it here.
We all know the story of how the Indians taught the Pilgrims the ways of the new world; when to plant, what to plant, where to plant and where and what to hunt. In the meantime the Indians shared their food and knowledge and helped provide the means for survival of the Pilgrims. It says a lot about both people. Obviously the Pilgrims were not viewed as a threat by the Indians or else, in order to protect their children, the Indians would have let the Pilgrims perish so as to remove the threat. It says a lot about the Pilgrims, who in desperate need, would be open and receiving to a people totally different from themselves. Following a bountiful harvest, the Pilgrims set aside a special time to give thanks to their God and the Indians for the harvest bounty and for their survival.
It strikes me that the relationship between our settlers and the people already living here is much like the lives we Lions lead. We are here in our communities to serve the needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves, whether it is to provide glasses, or eye screening, or feeding the hungry, or whatever the community need is. We don’t care that the people we help may be different than ourselves or not speak the language we grew up with. WE SERVE. Just like the Indians served the pilgrims.
Of course, we all know the end of the story and many of us are not proud of how we intruders into the new world ultimately treated the Indians, but the tradition of Thanksgiving still survives. The pilgrim’s ultimately survived and became self sufficient. The Indians were my earliest example of giving a hand up, rather than a hand out.
We as Lions can not only be thankful for what we enjoy but, also thankful for our founder, Melvin Jones. Because of him, we have our Association of Lions Clubs around the world to carry on the mission of our service to those in need just like those Indians provided service to the Pilgrims. Feed the hungry, share the bounty. Give a hand up to aid those in need so that they can gain self sufficiency too.
Also, remember to give a big thank you to those in uniform around the world and their families who are making a huge sacrifice on our behalf to ensure our country’s values.
I wish you all the best in this season of Thanksgiving. Give thanks. Share the blessings.
Yours in Lionism,
DG Chuck Bailey