Tagged Gift Economy

Thanksgiving Meditation

The model for our modern Thanksgiving was a celebration that happened in 1621, at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Native Americans helped the pilgrims cultivate the land and fish, saving them from starvation. Giving and gratitude was a way of life for Native Americans, not just a special celebration of safe passage. Their generosity was not just kindness but initiation. They were inducting the mostly English settlers in a new way to be on this Earth—participating in every aspect of life as if it is sacred. Their pipe ceremony was a form of prayer like the pilgrim’s Lord’s…

Can We Change?

In the past few years, as Parabola has searched for ways to survive and be useful in the world, the question of how to live as if we are all interconnected has moved to the center of my life. We mutually belong to one another and to a greater whole—this ancient idea resonates with me on the deepest level.  Yet, on a less deep, more worldly level it also feels dangerous, something to be practiced by special beings like Jesus and Buddha, or at least in very special and safe conditions with like-minded individuals. Younger contributors to Parabola disagree. Nipun…

The Gift of Giving

Happy Thanksgiving!  I recently learned that when the Puritans landed in Massachusetts,  they discovered that the Indians had a strange feeling about the giving and receiving of gifts.   Having experienced nothing like it, they misunderstood it, ran it down.   In 1764,  when Thomas Hutchinson wrote his history of the colony, he explained that the already old expression “Indian gift” meant “a present for which an equivalent return is expected.”   Over the years, the term became broader and even more degraded–an “Indian giver” is someone who gives a gift only to ask for it back.    What the Indians understood (…