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OPINION: A bundle tied together

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The world is divided along so many lines it’s insane. We have race disputes, gender conflicts, family squabbles and the generation gap even seems to be widening. Now, added to this, we have camps of “vaxxers” and “non-vaxxers”, writes Lance Fredericks.

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READING time in Sub A (now known as Grade 1) was my favourite time of the day. It was the time that we were called from our tables to the mat at the front of the class and Ms Simons would read to us.

What she read was captivating it itself, but the way she read it even more so. She would raise her voice, whisper, pause and make eye-contact throughout the telling of the story, giving our Sub A imaginations time to paint pictures and scenes as elaborate or simple as we pleased.

I believe that our imaginations were a bit more vivid back then because we had to create on a blank canvas, not having constant input from television and streaming websites – but that’s just my opinion. It simply proves that the generation gap is widening.

One story I remember that I particularly enjoyed and that made a huge impression on me – so huge that here I am remembering it almost 50 years later – was the story of the farmer and his squabbling children.

The story goes: Once, an old farmer had some children, but over time he noticed that they were becoming increasingly intolerant, even aggressive toward each other. So, to give them a lesson and unite them, he knew he had to make a plan.

He called them together and told each of them to bring one rod. Then he tied the rods together into a single bundle, then he challenged each of them to try and break the bundle, saying: “My children, I want you to know that I will leave all my inheritance to the one who can break this bundle.”

Upon hearing this, the farmer’s children tried to break this bundle every way they could – supporting it on their knees, leaning it against furniture, even just with brute strength. However, all efforts were in vain. The father, after they had all given up, took the rods one by one and broke them easily.

His children cried foul: “It’s not fair father, that way we could have done it too.”

The father answered them: “This lesson, my children, is the best inheritance that I leave you, and you must think about it, since you are like these rods, if you are united by fraternal love, you will be strong and invincible, but if you are separated, anyone will overcome you.”

The wise father taught his children two important lessons that day. They learned a lesson that they would not forget, and neither should we.

Being united is the strength, since each of the elements that forms the union manages to reinforce its qualities with those of its counterparts. But this is not all, if you manage to segregate the union into pieces, then you can make them weaker, since if in the union there is strength, in the division there is weakness.

There is a well-known Latin maxim that goes: “Dīvide et īmpera” (divide and conquer).

Here is a lesson that we can learn, and we don’t even have to be in kindergarten to learn it.

The world is divided along so many lines it’s insane. We have race disputes, gender conflicts, family squabbles and the generation gap even seems to be widening. Now, added to this, we have camps of “vaxxers” and “non-vaxxers”.

“They are wrong, we are right! They are fools, we are wise! They are going to die miserable, painful deaths, we have at least given ourselves a chance of survival! They are causing the unravelling of society and the continuation of the disruption of our way of life, while we are doing our best to get things back on track …”

Back and forth it goes. Social media is a minefield. For example, tell people you have decided not to be vaccinated and people jump on you telling you how irresponsible you are. Or tell them that you have taken the vaccine and you start learning about how you are doomed to have your DNA unwind and your eyeballs explode.

Like the old farmer, I would like to ask … and like Ms Simons, I would like to pause before I do …

The world is broken enough; could we perhaps start a sort of healing in our own tiny sphere of influence? I wonder, is it more important to be right, or is it perhaps better to be kind?

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