The following is an excerpt from a Thanksgiving talk I will give this Sunday, 11 a.m., at the Baha’i Unity Center, 2370 Wesley Chapel Road Decatur, GA 30035. You are cordially invited.
Thanksgiving Message from a Pilgrim in Progress in this New American Cultural Revolution
Thanksgiving is a special time for me for many reasons, not only because it reminds me to be thankful, but also because I am a pilgrim, both literally, as Pellegrino is Italian for Pilgrim, and symbolically, on a progressive pilgrimage and journey of learning and growth. And, like the early pilgrims to this country, this journey was blessed greatly by an early opportunity to live among the Native Americans, on a Reservation in northern NY, and to visit and stay on many other Reservations around this country. I went there over 30 yrs ago in my young, white-male, arrogance—to teach, counsel and save them—and, not unlike the early pilgrims, I was instead “saved” (from my ignorance and arrogance) and learned more from them than I could have ever imagined. I will sum up in two words the Native American religion and way of life that I learned: thankfulness and gratitude.
Now fast forward 30 years to 2012 and this pilgrim is thankful for many things including the Native Americans and what they taught and continue to teach me, but I am especially thankful today for the New American (and really world-wide) Cultural & Spiritual Revolution, described as follows:
1) I give thanks for the African Americans, and other peoples of direct African descent, described in my Faith’s Writings as a people " like unto the pupil of the eye that is dark in color but is a fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world.", for shedding your light of spirit and guidance on this nation and the world. In my understanding of history and scripture, and through my personal experience serving together with you, it is your time to take a leadership role in ushering in this new age of enlightenment and progress, and to help shift the power structure away from the evils of excessive materialism, nationalism, racism, exploitation, sexism, homophobia, and all the phobias of the feared “other”, to one which is reflective of the wonderful diversity of humanity and is characterized by equity and inclusion. To me it is no accident or anomaly that one of your own has been chosen twice by a diverse array of Americans of all backgrounds to be their leader and the most powerful leader in the world. The Scriptures state that you will reach your zenith through the innate strength of character, your dependence on the God of your understanding, and through your spirit of forgiveness, especially exhibited towards your former oppressors. (Two great examples of this attitude of forgiveness combined with mercy and justice are Dr. King in this country and Nelson Mandela in S. Africa, but I see it every day in my interactions with your community, as I am welcomed by and made to feel at home with you all, though I still retain vestiges of my ingrained white superiority complex.)
2) I give thanks for the Immigrants to America, those of Latin American, Asian, African, Eastern European, Middle Eastern origin, no matter how they came here and what hardships they had to endure, just like our immigrant ancestors (who, by the way, were all considered “illegal” or worse by the dominant group of the time—even my Italian ancestors were called WOPS—which meant, “without papers”), to make this nation the most diverse which, as the President recently said in his re-election speech, is our true strength and American exceptionalism—our unity in diversity. (I am also thankful that after this election and the overwhelming participation of immigrants of all backgrounds, the majority of Americans and leaders has awakened to these facts, have remembered where they came from, and now want to welcome these immigrants and afford them a path to citizenship.) It is interesting to note that many of the Latin American immigrants coming here have Native American heritage. And, all of this is prophesied in the scriptures of all the Holy Books, including my Faith’s writings.
3) I give thanks for the Women, who bring us in the world through their labor, are the first educators and nurturers of us all, and have borne the brunt of oppression by a male dominated society for ages, but are also now taking a leadership and shared power role. This will, according to the Scriptures, ultimately end war, for women leaders will be far more reluctant to send their children to die on battlefields. (Many feel that a woman will be our next President.) As the equality of men and women, a spiritual and rational principle, becomes reality, men will actually be freed and liberated from living the lie that they are somehow superior—which will lift a burden of denial from their shoulders enabling them to mature and reach their full potential. So I also give thanks for those men who are achieving this freedom and liberation by showing the due respect and regard for women.
4) I give thanks for the White folk, especially fellow white males, who are working hard to identify and abandon our inherent sense of superiority and dominance, which often leads to arrogance and the need to be in control and right all of the time, especially when interacting with people of color and women. This false idea of superiority has wreaked so much havoc on our entire American and world society, leading to wars, slavery, Jim Crow, racism and colonialism, that its solution, together with the attitude of forgiveness for past wrongs on the part of the oppressed peoples of color, will insure, according to my Faith’s writings, a path to world peace.
5) Finally, I give thanks for the following spiritual and practical principles which are taking root in America and humanity as a whole (all of which are principles enunciated in my Faith’s prophecies and writings, but also in scientific research):
a) Independent Investigation of Truth: More than ever people can and are investigating truth for themselves and don’t have to rely on the past power brokers, including those who spend millions to influence people’s decisions with tv ads. Even the label and word “independent” has become vogue. This holds true for religion too, where the clergy have no special right or privilege of interpreting the scriptures or defining people’s faith and actions. And no one can claim to know or have the whole or only truth, while everyone is free to use the tools of science and religion, and the powers of rational mind and spiritual discernment to learn truth.
b) Elimination of the Extremes of Wealth and Poverty: It is absolutely unjust for anyone to live in abject poverty while another lives in luxurious wealth. Not only is this immoral but it is dangerous to the economic health of a society and all civilizations have fallen and economies crashed where this disparity between the wealthy and the poor became extreme. It is simply not sustainable. (This does not mean that everyone should have the exact same amount of pay, relative wealth, etc, however there has to be moderation, and it is the job of government to enforce that moderation through sound economic policies, which include progressive taxation.)
c) A Global Society and New World Order is emerging which will be characterized by equity rather than exploitation of any one or group of nations over another. America and Americans are beginning to learn how to share prosperity and the world’s resources rather than hoarding them.
d) The Realization of the Oneness of Humanity, the Oneness of Religion, and the Oneness of God: We are learning that there is no superior race, no superior religion, and no one’s higher power or concept of God (or lack thereof) is superior to another’s belief or viewpoint. We can therefore come together in the spirit of consultation and compromise to learn from each other.
Wow, there’s a lot to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!
Rich Pellegrino: 404-573-1199