Bird Droppings September 5, 2020
It takes more than one strand to make a rope, in life and education.
“You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.” Faith Baldwin
Every day as I talk to teachers and or students, I try and set an example, and not always am I successful. But as I think this beautiful almost fall morning getting up slower today than average and relaxing perhaps too much, I am finally getting into a rhythm. So, I am sitting here trying to decide if I should work on writing a paper later today or be lazy. I thought I would take a few moments to write. In the end, knowing in an hour or two, I would be headed to school, a few minutes of writing won out. Since I have been lazy about writing over the weekend, essentially sitting around with my leg propped up, I can hopefully go back to a walking cast. Many of the people I talk to everyday stand-alone, often due to their choosing.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” John Donne
It has been several years since I experimented with a group of young people using sewing thread. I had a thread for each person, and then I asked each of them to break the thread, which was simple and easily done.
“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” James Baldwin
After breaking the threads, I gave each of them another piece of thread, and one by one, we joined the threads together. In the end, we had a thirty strand or piece of string/rope, and we twisted it slightly to keep threads together.
“In union, there is strength.” Aesop
“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends on the fate of all.” Alexander the Great
Amazingly enough, no one could break the new combined rope even when several folks pulled on each end, it would not break.
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Bahá’u’ lláh
I still carry that piece of string/rope in my wallet. It surely does make a great example when talking to students actual most anyone.
“I look to a time when brotherhood needs no publicity, to a time when a brotherhood award would be as ridiculous as an award for getting up each morning.” Daniel D. Michiel
It has been a few years back that I attended a demonstration up in Mountain City, Georgia. The lecturer at the Foxfire Museum used a couple of folks in the group and had them twisting and turning six strands of twine into a rope.
“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” Mahatma Gandhi
Real unity is the question, and in today’s politically charged atmosphere, unity is not to be found. I had shown my students so many years ago that even though having multiply strands of thread all together in a bundle was significantly stronger each time you cut a piece; it weakened Exponentially.
“In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Booker T. Washington
“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963
When I can I sit outside in my garden and back yard, I think about and ponder what I have I witnessed, the differences in attitude and differences in brotherhood in the world. Many are similar, and in a high school, that old cliché of school spirit is generally a good indicator of brotherhood’s semblance, a joining force in humanity’s body. But still, there are strands of thread dangling outside, weakening the whole.
“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition
I will never say everyone has to be identical. I like Booker T. Washington’s statement of each of being a finger yet still being able to be a hand. I used to think it was cool when I saw a six-fingered person, and in my old stomping grounds of Lancaster and Chester counties, you would often see an Amish fellow with an extra finger. There was a recent ad where everyone was upset with Joe, who had extra fingers because he could type so much faster and then do so much more; the ad showed him typing away and multi-tasking with his extra fingers. But the ad was also about to change, and new equipment equalized the office space. So often, we cannot accept the differences.
“I have often noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food, they often find that there is enough for all of them. I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.” Don Marquis
In life, far too often, we spend our time fretting over differences and not looking for similarities. How can we work as a group a team? I watched college football Saturday for a few minutes and a jubilant football crowd at a football game. In the end, teamwork makes all the difference in a win or loss. The winner is not always the better team. Still, better collaboration will win, and it can be only a minute difference; a single strand could change a game and or life.
“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Kenyan Proverb
Interestingly, while I was writing about unity, and I still believe in individuality, I am a very monastic person, after all, and it is a difficult task. I come back to Booker T. Washington’s quote; I can be a thumb and still work as a hand when needed. It is in believing and in trusting, we gain that unity and that brotherhood. Watching the schools now working on homecoming and various rallies keep coming up, why all the negative why not work together, the problems are here, and solutions can be had if there were teamwork. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)