Hello and good day!
A mother and her twenty-five-year-old daughter walked into our chocolate shop. The mother had a thick eastern European accent. The daughter spoke like a natural born Washingtonian.
"This is a Polish chocolate shop?" asked the mother.
I responded, "we use Peruvian cacao, and the chocolate is made in Switzerland. The products are manufactured here in Issaquah. So, no. It is not a Polish chocolate shop."
"But you are Polish. I saw you walking around with the sign outside. It was a couple of days ago. I saw you and I thought to myself, this is a Polish man. The chocolate shop is Polish owned. I am Polish and I know Polish people when I see them. I told my daughter that today we would go to the Polish chocolate shop. Here we are."
"My brother and I are half Polish Jew. You aren't wrong."
"You see," said the mother to her daughter. "This is a Polish chocolate shop, like I said." The mother and daughter each drank a free hot chocolate. They looked around and shopped. We chatted. It was very pleasant.
"I will tell all of my Polish friends about you. Thank you," said the mother. "Thank you very much," said the daughter.
They walked out, their white paper Fortunato Chocolate bags in tow.
If you are a Jew of Polish descent living in 2023, you know that your family line very likely would have been exterminated by the Nazis if somebody in your family didn't make the decision to leave Poland sometime before the mid to late 1930's.
Thankfully, my great grandmother left Poland around 1910. Otherwise, my mother, my brother, and I probably wouldn't be here. Or if we were here, we'd be the grandchildren of holocaust survivors. That's who we are.
And it is a big part of the reason why I am grateful for every good thing I ever receive in life. It's also why bad things tend to slide right off of me. I'm happy just to have a life to live every day.
It goes even deeper than what I've described above though. Why were Jews even in Poland to begin with? I don't have enough space to lay it out in full. But somewhere around the 13th century, Polish nobles put out word that they wanted Jews to migrate in. Jewish folks already had a reputation back then for being good hard workers, who were good at business, and could help build up an economy.
They'd been wandering around as a persecuted race for several hundred years and were happy to find a place where they were wanted. Traditionally, Jews have been villainized for being separatist.
They believe in their God. They hold fast to their traditions. They aren't willing to acclimate themselves to local customs if said customs go against divine law. Throughout history, rulers with Jewish populations have generally found Jews to be ungovernable, which is frustrating.
Anyhow, Poland went from being one of the poorest countries in the world at the time to being one of the most advanced. Jewish merchants and manufacturers became rich. They became financiers. And they were assigned to important posts in government.
Polish nobles began to work through Jewish administrators to collect taxes from native born Polish peasants. This created a lot of resentment and a Cossack uprising sprung up in the early 1600's which identified Jews as a public enemy. Extreme violence began in earnest, and it continued on into the 20th century. I know this is where I come from. It is a deep, deep foundation.
Enough about the Jews in Poland.
What is a Peruvian? The most advanced civilizations in the pre-Columbus Americas were in what are now Mexico and Peru. Archeological finds show that extremely complex societies existed in the Americas going back many, many thousands of years.
The Incas administered an empire that was 30% longer than the United States, more than 700 years ago. Then, about 500 years ago, what is now Peru was invaded by an outside civilization and natives had their land stolen and were forced into slavery.
200 years ago, Peru expelled the foreign invader and declared independence. However, what happens in the past leaves an imprint. Let's call it a boulder sized imprint.
Now an allegory.
One fine summer morning, everybody in a neighborhood wakes up to a lovely sunny day. The neighborhood is located in a forested area and there is but one small, two lane road that takes drivers out to a 4-lane street which leads to a city and a freeway.
hose who must go out into the world to work and earn a living, eat their breakfast, shower, get dressed, climb into a car, and drive down the little road. Everybody knows each other, and each morning they see each other when they leave home. The line of cars is orderly and friendly, and everybody moves along at their regular, comfortable pace.
As they make their way down the road, towards the exit where the road meets the wider street, they come upon a huge boulder blocking the throughway. Traffic builds up behind the boulder and nobody is able to pass because the boulder blocks the entire road. Everybody gets out of their car and gathers around to brainstorm.
"What are we going to do?" asks one of the neighbors. "I know," says a second. The second neighbor picks up a handful of gravel pebbles from the side of the road and walks towards the boulder. Within throwing distance, the neighbor begins flinging small, light pebbles at the tremendous boulder.
Predictably, the pebbles bounce off the gigantic rock and come hurling back in the direction of the gathering. Many hit onlookers in the face and on the arms, nicking and scratching them.
"It's not going to work! The pebbles aren't heavy enough! Every rock you throw bounces straight back at us! Please stop!" shouts one of the neighbors.
"That's not it," responds the thrower. "It isn't that the pebbles aren't heavy enough. It's that I'm throwing all by myself. You all need to join in! Now hurry up or we're all going to be terribly late for work."
Unfortunately, I am running out of space for today.
I will continue on tomorrow.
But suffice it to say for now that almost every person is a boulder. Very few are moved by light things, no matter the volume.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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