The festival brings to mind and memory activity that I have long been fascinated with – pioneering. It is a stretch for me to think about trying to establish myself where nothing I rely on exists. Sure, I am used to moving and starting over in new places with new people, but everywhere I have moved there has always been an apartment or house already for me to move into. Not so for the pioneers in our country. They picked up the few things they had, and built a new life for themselves in places where their way of life did not exist before. The churches, schools, homes, public buildings, etc. that were part of life from where they came were not present like they were used to on the American frontier before they arrived. Part of their pioneering activity was emulating their idea of home on this western landscape.
There is something timeless and virtuous about being able to start over. Though the pioneers’ ambitions may have been misplaced from time to time, their ability to focus on visions of the future instead of what they lacked in the present is something that should be remembered and valued. I have met people who have a lot of money and assets, but are still poor because they cannot value what they have. They always look at what others have and think to themselves, “I am so poor because I am not as rich as my neighbor.” While this may be true in some or a lot of cases, I find that people who live their lives focused only on what their neighbors have will never be content with what they, themselves have. Even if they have more than their neighbors, understanding one’s own wealth by contrasting it with that of our neighbors will never leave one feeling complete. If we instead focus on what we have according to our own needs, then we can be content or discontent with our own well-being. Better yet, if we focus on how we can give out of our own possession to continually serve our neighbors well-being, we will be richer still.
The pioneers did this. They focused on the little they had and saw that they could build a better future for their children. They had a vision of what was not yet, and they lived into it, working hard for others. They did not lament their own poverty, but worked to improve their lot in life, as well as create a better life for their neighbors and future generations. They saw what they did not have and dealt with it by working to give others more. This is something that we should remember, and continually try to do in our own lives.