In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
People often migrate for physical survival. Drought and famine drive people away from their homes in search for food and water. The largest migration in U.S. history was caused by the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. By 1940, 2.5 million people had left the Plains States (especially Oklahoma), with 200,000 moving to southern California. But the “Okies” were met by the “bum brigade,” 125 Los Angeles police officers that were sent to the California state line to turn away “undesirables.” Long after the end of the “bum brigade,” the Dust Bowl migrants were treated with contempt, discrimination and violence.
Environmental disasters frequently are created by human greed. The severity of the 1930’s Dust Bowl was directly related to farming practices and Federal land policies. Today, climatologists are warning of a global increase in human migration due to the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns. Read the Time magazine article HERE.
Questions for Reflection
If Elimelech’s family showed up in your community in need of food and shelter, how do you think people would react?
If you were faced with Elimelech’s situation, where would you go? How do you think you would be received–especially if you had no relatives in that place? How would you want to be treated?
We’ve heard the phrase “Water is Life” around concerns about the Dakota Access Pipe Line. That mantra is now being heard throughout the nation as the Environmental Protection Agency has been slated for a 31% decrease in its budget for the next year and the elimination of programs like the Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up. If the effects of the cuts resulted in the displacement of communities in search of clean water, where do you think people would go? How would you react if they came to your community?