By Henrylito D. Tacio
ONCE upon a time, a mother and her son were lost in the forest. They were trying to get out from the forest but the more they tried the more they were lost. While walking, the little boy stepped into a sharp twig and pierced his left foot. It was good that the wound was not that bad. So, they continued walking.
That night, they found a cave where they slept. But in the middle of the night, the boy was shaking. He was having a fever. “He must have infection as a result of the wound,” his mother thought. She hugged him but the shivering continued.
The mother could no longer hold her tears. “Is there someone out there?” she cried out lout. “My son needs help.” It was at this moment that she saw the animals around her. “What happened?” the monkey inquired.
The mother explained to them what occurred. “I need my son to be brought to the nearest hospital,” she begged them. “Otherwise, he will die soon.”
“Okay, but we need to change his shirt first,” the lion said. “Of course,” the tiger seconded. “I think the color yellow is good for him.” The zebra opposed, “No, the color red looks fine with the little boy.” The giraffe resisted, “But I am sure he will look wonderful in the color orange.”
Soon, thereafter, there was a big debate among the animals. Since they could not agree on which color of shirt the boy would wear, the lion declared, “Fine with me. You can go ahead with whatever you want but count me out.” Then the tiger followed and said, “I have to go now. You don’t listen to my ideas.” The other animals likewise did the same.
In the same vein, when people are gathered together and discussed some issues, there is always a struggle between the pros and cons. One idea is better than the other. As a result, there is a debate among them. Unity is out of question.
“We are more inclined to hate one another for points on which we differ, than to love one another for points on which we agree,” observes Charles Caleb Colton. “The reason perhaps is this: when we find others that agree with us, we seldom trouble ourselves to confirm that agreement; but when we chance on those who differ from us, we are zealous both to convince and to convert them. Our pride is hurt by the failure, and disappointed pride engenders hatred.”
An aged dying father called his seven sons around him. He gave each one a stick and told them, “Break it.” Each son easily broke his separate stick. The old father then bound seven sticks into a bundle, gave it to his eldest son and said, “Break it.”
The eldest could not break it, nor could any of the rest. “So,” said the father, “it should be with you. Alone you are weak. But when you and your brothers are together, then you are strong.” In union, so goes a saying, there is strength.
There is division among people because of various reasons. One of these is opinion. Plato said, “Between knowledge of what really exists and ignorance of what does not exist lies the domain of opinion. It is more obscure than knowledge, but clearer than ignorance.”
Opinions, of course, come from ideas. “All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time,” George Seldes claimed. “Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him,” Paul Eldridge said.
“The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it,” Oscar Wilde pointed out. Victor Hugo surmised: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.”
Put different people with different backgrounds to discuss a certain idea, and that idea will vanish into oblivion. F. Scott Fitzgerald reminds us: “No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.”
Dale Carnegie confesses: “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”
Ideas are ideas and they must be put into use. And these ideas should bring goodwill to human beings. After all, we live not only for ourselves but also for others. Peter DeVries said: “We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
In the story I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I am sure you are disappointed with what the animals have done. They should have settled all their differences. Instead of focusing on what color of shirt the little boy should wear, they should concentrate on the goal that brought them together: to help and bring the little boy to the nearest hospital.
Sure, each of the animals could contribute something to the cause. The lion and tiger, for instance, could provide the easiest and fastest possible route out of the forest. The elephants could clear the path from obstacles. The birds could tell if there are some dangers and obstacles ahead (cliffs, rivers, and mountains, among others).
This brings us to the subject of service. I have been told that there are three types of people who respond to the call of service. First, there are those rowboat people who have to be pushed. Second are those sailboat people who always go with the wind. Lastly, there are those who are steamboat people who make up their minds where they ought to go and go there regardless of wind and weather. “You have not done enough, you have never done enough, so long as it is still possible that you have something to contribute,” Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dag Hammarksjold said.
Going back to the subject of unity, Edmund Burke wrote in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontent: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” How true, how true!
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