table-copy“When you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”  Author unknown

Those of you who follow me know that my grandparents came from Poland. For anyone who has just happened on my blog, the context to this post is that they arrived with little only to find they were not always welcomed. Signs in windows said, “No DP (displaced person – or as some used it “dumb Polack”) need apply.” Some family members changed their names in order to escape the ski that gave away their heritage and kept jobs from them.  welcome-statureMany in my family worked more than one low-paying job in order to secure a better life for their children. My father’s father helped build the railroad in the late 1800s.

His wife, her mother, and their six kids ran a bakery in their home, living in the small second story so the oldest, including my father, could go to college.

My other grandfather made hand-made suits. We all learned a strong work ethic and America was a land of opportunity for us. (Want to know more: this is my post on my family’s experience, Mother of Exiles.)

I did not have to work as a child, I could play.  A favorite card game was aptly named “Spoons.” Somewhat like musical chairs there was always one less spoon than players. A card was turned over, then we each added a card in turns until the first card was matched, and everyone made a dive to grasp a spoon. You played in rounds until there were only two players left and one spoon. The one who failed was eliminated…and there was a winner.

The game was won by the attentive and quick. Hard work didn’t matter. Age helped…as well as a certain willingness to do anything it took to win.


In this children’s game, the younger and slower could be quickly excluded, but the cards for the next round were dealt amid the tears. I would “throw” games of “Go Fish” and Rummy….but not Spoons. Something about getting that last spoon lit a fire in me to win.


Usually, I was one of the winners. Later, I learned to compete against myself instead, and spent my career helping others win a spoon. My life experiences enabled an understanding of ambition, yet a desire to create more parity for others including refugees, and shapes my view of immigration policy.

At this moment, I look around and see those who think this country has one too few spoons to share with those dreaming an American dream. Many want taller fences or big walls. defianceThey shake their fists, lean over the “treasure,” daring those who arrived late to the game to even think they should have a seat at the table let alone capture a spoon. “Mine, Mine, Mine, Get Away,” they seem to say.

Perhaps, their family acquired their spoons the hard way like mine, working in mines, shoveling coal into blast furnaces, bent over assembly lines, or like my paternal grandfather pounding railroad ties. Often this was a family business. Sons followed fathers and grandfathers into this backbreaking work to have security, food on the table, and a pension at the end. Some of the anger misplaced onto immigrants comes because generations “sweated blood,” as my mom would say, for jobs that have evaporated like ice on a sunny day.

baby-spoon-pile-copy“Someone” took away some or all of their spoons. Robotics and other technologies, outsourcing and corporate closures of plants, downsizing, lay-offs, lost or reduced pensions, and fear for themselves, their children, their future, and for their country. It was a disappearing way of life, a vanishing culture.


To those who have enough to feel secure, it seems as if building fences misses the renewable bounty on the table of America.  The jobs illegal immigrants are willing to do, do not match the blue-collar, but middle-class income jobs that have gone away, and we know the coal miner’s son in West Virginia is not going to trim tobacco blossoms in the Carolinas, pick fruit in California, apples in New York, or produce in Florida for pennies.

America is still the same Field of Dreams that made the Irish, the Germans, the Polish and the Italians come more than a hundred years ago. It entices immigrants today, and with farm workers come students and tech geniuses, engineers, doctors, and entrepreneurs to build bigger tables. Research shows the economy grows in times of high immigration, but we can’t just blithely say, “Build a bigger table.” We must see the losses and fears behind those with anti-immigrant anger and we need to refresh their dream.

long-spoon-copySo let me share again a favorite cartoon, this time with a slight twist. It is a two cell cartoon.  The first square shows a room labeled Hell, angry people around a huge table stretching elongated spoons to reach a bubbling stewpot in the middle. The spoons reach it, but, only able to hold them by the end, the people cannot bring the food to their mouths and fights erupt.

The second cell shows the same room, large table, and stew in the middle. Each person there has an identical spoon still long enough to reach the stew, too long to bring to the holder’s mouth…yet everyone is happy as they reach around the table and feed their neighbor. This is labeled Heaven.

I was really encouraged by the empathy I saw most recently about the plight of those who were turned away from our shores. Our country has an expandable table and we do have big spoons. Some might label that second room as America at its best. And yes, we do need to invite EVERYONE to share in our bounty, and that must include those who have been steadily sliding out of the middle class, those who fear to let in the outsider in will further endanger them.

If LOVE is to triumph and really defeat HATE, we need to work hard to be inclusive, and understanding, not just with the refugee, the immigrant, and minorities, but with anyone who is struggling or hurting or being left behind. Not everyone is a bigot – some are just afraid.  We need to mean it when we say everyone can come to the table.

Don’t worry the real bigots won’t join us – they are too busy playing spoons.




About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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21 Responses to Spoons

  1. dougeddy says:

    Very good. Saw it once with an illustration but could not find it. Here are some sites you might find interesting, though:





    The Rev. Dr. G. Douglas Eddy

    7313 Shady Stroll Lane Willow Spring, NC 27592

    (919) 552-0066 – home (252) 722-3427 – cell

    Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. mariaholm says:

    Your ancestors have come in legally and worked real hard as mine did in my country. Some of my ancestors also immigrated to the United States and worked hard on any job to survive and make a living. Such good examples for our generation that things aren’t just given but earned

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    What a WONDERFUL post, and extremely well written. Loved the heaven/hell story – and thought immediately of the solution as I was reading the problem.

    It seems to me the problems in this country began when we did not vociferously object to tax laws that favored Corporate Capitalists before they were enacted – and far too many of us remain unaware, still, of what those laws ARE.

    The loopholes do help “create jobs” as claimed by the politicians – but NOT on our shores. Only part of the problem is that revenue is not taxable until the corporations bring it back to America, which they don’t – increasing our economic problem ten-fold – and starting the job drift much more than any loss of jobs due to the increasing use of technology. In fact, statistically few workers were affected by job loss as a result of automation – although many had to retrain for different kinds of jobs.

    And still, far too many support the spoon-grabbing rhetoric of the man/child who would be king. Sad and frightening. Articles like yours – and others like you – make a difference – drip by drip. I hope we can, together, open more eyes and turn this country around before it is too late.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thank you so much for your insights, Madelyn, I absolutely agree. I am really worried that this administration will be the worst bait and switch ever, with the wealthy, Wall Street, big corporations, big banks and big pharma the only ones who benefit from yet another version of trickle down. I know many were desperate for change, for things to improve in their lives, and I doubt they will gain anything but more blame of others for their problems. We really need to come together before the chaos in the White House takes us to war to distract us from everything else! Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • WILL be? Is being. But not so much bait and switch to those of us who fact checked before voting.

        At this point, however, we must find some way to come together as a populace and decide what is acceptable and what we must raise our collective voices to oppose, or all that any of us value may soon be lost.

        btw, Jo, sorry my fingers typed “Joan” in one of my comments – I try to make it a point to get names right when I respond, but my proofing eyes sometimes miss what I actually typed. ::sigh:: I frequently don’t see oopses until *after* I’ve hit send.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Madelyn, No, those who fact checked probably didn’t vote for him, but more so to those he duped with all his “promises”, especially the blue collar rust belt people. Don’t worry…I do the same thing, all the time! Jo

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for understanding, JO.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. Sadly, the spoon game is what’s happening in America today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bernadette says:

    Joan, as usual you write not only with your heart but also with a lot of insight. Yes, as a country we do need to stop labeling everyone and stop being divisive. It is hard for those who have lost manufacturing jobs to think about sharing the largesse of our country. But, as the saying goes, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it and this is not the first time jobs have been eliminated due to world economic conditions and technology and it won’t be the last. But somehow citizens learned new skills and survived and thrived with the help of a creative and forward thinking government. The last time we turned our backs on immigrants a terrible price was paid to those denied asylum. I don’t want blood on my hands or on the hands of our country.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Clive says:

    Sadly, your wise words apply to more than the US. The parallels with the UK post-Brexit vote are many and worrying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Clive, recently I heard a public radio story on the highest area of Brexit vote in England and it discussed your Boston. It equated the high level of Yes voters (and interviewed a number) complaining about Polish immigrants there as the reason for their vote. Of course having Polish roots this caught my ear….I had heard right after the vote there had been vandalism of Polish sites. Are Polish immigrants so hated? I wondered about your thoughts….Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        The sad thing is that the people you heard were typical of many Leave voters, who fell for the lies they were given. The fact is that there are more Poles living here than from any other EU country, but many of them are employed in jobs that British workers don’t want to do. Around Boston there is a lot of agriculture and horticulture, both of which are industries which will suffer greatly if EU workers leave as a result of Brexit. A report published last week suggested that it could take us 20 years to retrain ‘locals’ to do all these jobs, by which time places like Boston will have become ghost towns in economic depression.

        I don’t think it’s a particularly anti-Polish thing, but we have had more incidents of racial discrimination since the vote. The most serious was in Harlow, Essex, where I used to live. A Polish man was punched outside a fast food shop late one evening just because he wasn’t speaking English. He later died from his injuries, having fallen onto the pavement (sidewalk). Sad and worrying times. I don’t feel very proud of being British these days.

        Liked by 2 people

      • joanneeddy says:

        This sounds so similar to the situations for Mexicans here. Brexit seems a more slow unfolding of this, though that may only be that we don’t get your day to day news. Of course, over here, the twitter obsessed President seems to provoke new outrage every day to two and then have his surrogates try to clean up his mess, and then start again loudly proclaiming he meant exactly what he said. Still as long as I’m not a “Trumpet,” I want to have faith in the outrage here. People are standing up and saying the Emperor has no clothes, and trying to work against his despicable cruel agenda. I keep wondering what the backlash will be when the no new coal jobs appear, when steel continues to be made in China, when the only new jobs in manufacturing are for robots or highly skilled technicians. What will his (former) sycophants say then when then actually lose healthcare or pay even more than before? Are ordinary people doing any advocacy against Brexit in England or just accepting it? How will those who voted for it feel if Scotland leaves Great Britain over it? At least the Dutch seem to have learned from our mess…wonder what the French will do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        I think the Brexit situation is slightly different in that it is now a legal process, which will be the subject of a long, complicated set of negotiations. I’m not hopeful for any great success from these: I fear that both sides will adopt entrenched positions and then rush through something unsatisfactory to meet the deadline. And it will take many years to unravel everything after that, anyway. Our future as a nation is, I think, very uncertain and vulnerable. It was very telling that the Leave campaign were so surprised at the vote that they hadn’t even begun to plan for what would need to be done. Liars and incompetents! Just think Farage…..

        Your President is becoming a laughing stock to the rest of the world. The trouble is that while we’re all laughing his stooges and puppet masters are taking your country back to the dark ages of racism, misogyny and rampant intolerance for the poor, sick and elderly. He may be a clueless moron but the likes of Bannon and Pence aren’t. They’re downright dangerous.

        I hope this link works – I thought you might like to see this piece from the BBC website earlier today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-39315711


      • joanneeddy says:

        For me, I sometimes thinks Pence likes Being “the voice of reason” and I’ve almost come to believe he knows something that will get Trump impeached. I know it seems like conspiracy theory. Bannon is so like Cheney, the puppet master behind George W Bush. It is truly appalling to be here seeing and hearing this unfold. At least many of us are resisting. The world is upside down. (The link didn’t work but I will try typing it in).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        If Pence is the voice of reason we’re all doomed! He’s even further to the right than Trump. I think you could be right, he could be waiting his time to effect his coup and take over.

        Liked by 1 person

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