It's gratifying to know that "The Trail of Tears" series (see August archives, August 21-25) gave some happiness to another human being. the following is a very special letter that I'd like to share with you:
I'm a junior at an Alabama college, studying to be a history teacher. I was surfing on the web trying to gather information on the Cherokee Indians, and by a stroke of good fortune I landed on your site. You see, my mom is black and my dad is mostly Cherokee; I have kind of a moca complexion, and growing up here in the Deep South, I've been shunned all my life like a pariah by both the blacks and the whites. Lucky I have a birth certificate and driver's license, or else I'd never've known my real name, because everyone always called me "half-breed". I used to be ashamed of my Cherokee blood (since I grew up among blacks) until I read all 5 parts of The Trail of Tears. You, sir, have made me feel that I'm worth something special by showing me my origins. I want to thank you and your friend JL (Tsa La Gi). I've decided to start reading up on Jewish history. Thanks for giving me a good dose of dignity. Sincerely yours, Edward from Alabama
The same day that I received Edward's poignant letter, I received an intriguing, thought provoking letter from my dear friend Tsa La Gi himself:
Good afternoon Rabbi!
I just wanted to drop a line and say hi and make sure you and your family are doing good.
I've started reading the Trail of Tranquility, and I want to tell you, it makes more sense than anything I have probably ever read. I fully intend to take each little tidbit to heart.
I got activated for a day or so by the state guard (I'm a Captain in the infantry). Katrina was a mess. I guess the spectacle of seeing the raw truth about the state of our nation is a shock to most people in this country. No one would have ever believed that we would descend into anarchy, chaos, and outright predatory behavior, but it happened. Now we have to live with who we are, and it isn't a pretty sight for some.
People are buying firearms, prices are going up, and political finger pointing is in full swing. Before this is over and the next catastrophe happens, I fully expect that some people will realize that we in America have taken a drastic change for the worse in our society, and it won't be changed without some hard choices (or maybe worse).
The funny thing is, while some are wising up, others are becoming more entrenched in their ways. They scoff at the notion that Katrina could have been a judgement from G-d, and they try to make maximum profit from the suffering of others. I guess every generation has it's share of the wicked, and we are no different.
I guess the lesson of Katrina is this:
Man cannot and will not rule himself in justice and truth, because we are incapable. Left to our own devices, we descend into animal behavior without the leveling influence of G-d, and the discipline that comes with disobedience to His laws. Only G-d can rule over us in absolute truth and justice, and that justice is available to any of us to read and learn in the Torah.
Just a few ramblings on my experiences Rabbi. I wish you and yours a hearty and heartfelt best wishes. Take care, my friend, JL (Tsa La Gi)
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Edward and Tsa La Gi soon find themselves sitting on one of Moshiach's airlift 747's that bring the dispersed children of Israel back to the fully-redeemed homeland, soon and in our days, amen!