I read a news item this week which warmed my heart. The Choctaw people had suffered greatly when they were forced by the US Government in the early 1830’s to march thousands of miles and lost thousands of people along the way during what is now known as “the Trail of Tears.” In 1847, the Choctaw people heard of the suffering of the people of Ireland during the potato famine when a million of the Irish people died. In view of the Native American’s own experience of suffering and starvation, the Indian Nation raised $170 in 1847 and sent it to the people in Ireland. This debt to the Indian Nation has not been forgotten by the Irish.
More than 170 years later, the people of Ireland heard of the suffering of the Native American people during the current Coronavirus epidemic. A campaign was established in Ireland to help these Native American people whose ancestors had been so generous with the Irish in 1847. As of this week, the Irish people have sent $3,000,000 to the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation to help them in coping with the pandemic which has hit their people especially hard. The chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Gary Batton, did not express surprise “to learn of the assistance our special friends, the Irish, are giving to the Navajo and Hopi Nations.
We have become kindred spirits with the Irish in the years since the Irish potato famine.”
We have heard in recent years of the act of paying it forward. In this case, however, the Irish people paid it back. This is an inspiration to all of us to remember the people who have helped us along the way in our lives. Maybe it was a friend, a teacher, a pastor, a counselor. Did we thank them at the time? Have we appreciated their help looking back? Maybe we could reach out to them and see how they are doing during this pandemic. In the event that the person whom we remember has died, we might contact the family and share ways in which their loved one helped us on our journey. We might also support a charitable organization or cause that reminds us of that person. And, of course, we can always pray for them.
Be safe, stay home.