You may have read my post entitled “Instead“published on August 8 or a guest “Learning from ‘Strangers’ Among Us.” on August 15 which responds to “Instead” by sharing a story about learning from refugees and immigrants. On August 22, I shared “Bags Full of Hope,” a success story about a project carried out in just weeks by people in Holland, MI (with help from friends in other places) that demonstrates the power of “Instead” thinking. Today I present a comment on “Bags Full of Hope” by Thomas Tajian. This essay, which further develops the concept of strangers helping strangers, first appeared as an entry on his Facebook page. Thank you Thomas!
At this time when people are looking suspiciously at people who are different, I want to thank strangers for carrying to this point in my life. I am blessed with the things around me but would not be here or have these things but for people that I don’t know who came to my rescue and then disappeared. I am third generation full-blooded Armenian, and Armenians hold a grudge against Moslem Turks because of the genocide led by Talit Pasha at the turn of the century.
But a Moslem Turkish gendarme saved my aunts and grandmother by warning them of soldiers coming to look for them. My grandmother’s Turkish housekeeper hid them below the outhouse when soldiers came to her asking about them. A Moslem Turkish General protected my Grandmother as his servant as she went with him to the Turkish border by Aleppo to search for her children. A Moslem Syrian merchant picked up my aunt as she begged for help and carried her off to his place in Mosul and raised her as a daughter until my grandmother found her. An Moslem Iraqi judge hear my Grandmother’s case and gave my Aunt back to her for her to find her way, as many refuges did, through Europe, to America.
I would not be here if any of these and other strangers had not risked their lives to help my ancestors.In America, I would not be here if an Catholic Brother did not climb into the rubble of our tornado –wrecked 3 – decker to pull me out. There are people from all walks of life who carried me to this point. An old lady came out of Friendlies yelling at some hoodlums to leave me alone as they were beating me up when I was young. In college, a black lady banged her umbrella on the bus roof and yelling “let the Man out “ at the corner of Longwood and Huntington Ave in Boston after the bus doors closed on me and it began moving. My daughter might not be here if a rich man had not dived off the dock by the Yacht club to pull her out of the water in Manchester, MA.
There are other things that I also witnessed: I saw a woman in a wheelchair, wheel up to a fence in a parking lot on a cold winter day to allow a young African-American boy stand on her legs to unhook him from the cyclone fence that pinned him when he slipped while horsing around with his buddy. Twice, when I was tired at the end of a long workday when my wife was laid up, I came home to find help from unknown neighbors: Once there was a casserole on my porch and other time I found my animals tucked away in the barn. I never complained to anyone, but my “nosey neighbors” reached out. I still don’t know who did those things. Certainly not the government casserole agency.
Thank-you GOD for nosey neighbors, and strangers who love YOU regardless of their backgrounds. Thank-you that you did not wait for an agency to help or ask “who me?” but just did what was needed.