Walter W. Pickut
I used to take long walks, sometimes for miles and miles. I called it “taking a ride on my legs,” letting them take me wherever they wanted to go. I just watched the scenery roll by along my way.
And I never knew how long a walk would take me. That was back in the day when I really had no place important to go—the carefree years of a teen. But eventually, I discovered that every walk I started was just the beginning of a much longer one, a life-long walk with lots of places to go and things to see along the way.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb attributed to Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher of the 6th century BC, that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But that doesn’t say where such a journey would lead.
For some people that walk is a terrible one, not because they choose to go to bad places but because the ground shifts beneath their feet and there are people who make earthquakes and chasms open across their path.
Some long walks become a journey interrupted. Good people—no better and no worse than you and I—find themselves on a path not only beyond their plans, but beyond their nightmares. Their freedoms destroyed, their hopes stolen, and their homes lost to disasters—caused by both nature and man—they become refugees.
That’s why this week your Jamestown Gazette invites you to share compassion for those among us who’s long walk through life just got longer, more twisted, and more treacherous. They are escaping from oppression to freedom—and thankfully they have found us along their way.
We’re asking you to share our freedom like a drink of cool water with a thirsty traveler at the end of a long desert road.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in the United States where men were free.”
So our cover story this week is about the work of Journey’s End Refugee Services, an active and vibrant regional group headquartered in Buffalo. They celebrate and promote the remarkable resilience of refugees who come in hope, expecting to re-straighten their life’s walk on safer ground.
Few who read the Jamestown Gazette would claim to have never experienced life’s interruptions. Our new refugee residents, then, are merely us from a different place with a different language, yet with knowledge and experience well worth sharing.
Our purpose this week is to bring a little more light to this new opportunity. We can welcome our new neighbors to our community one step at a time. They’re not just neighbors in need. They bring us the gifts of their lives, experiences, and wisdom in return for our kindness—a very good exchange.
Another ancient Chinese proverb simply adds, “One step at a time is good walking,” and new neighbors should not walk alone.
And while you’re walking, please “Enjoy the read.”