In order to help our children at church understand how “unity” gives us strength, I had glued together several thin strips of wood. Although most of the pieces were of similar length, some of the pieces were longer than the others. One of them was three inches longer than any of the others.
After explaining that each piece was thin and weak by itself, I showed them the thick piece I’d made by gluing them all together. “Do you think this piece is weak?” I asked them. There was a chorus of emphatic “No’s!”
“Do you think you could break this piece?” Same response.
Then I pointed to the single thin strip sticking out past the others. “See this one?” I asked to focus them. “Now watch this:” Then I gripped the piece and bent it hard. It snapped off right where it joined the adjacent strips that had been glued to it. Some of the children flinched at the sound.
“Why did it break off like that?” I asked the group of children. One girl who looked to be about seven or eight years old held up her hand.
“Because it was sticking out by itself and it didn’t have the others there to support it.”
Absolutely right! I couldn’t have come up with a better answer myself.
It seems like children often understand important truths that us old folks often ignore, doesn’t it? We are hardly ever more at risk of significant personal harm than when seeking our own way becomes more important to us than the welfare of our group.
But when a bunch of us thin strips stick together, it’s mighty hard to break us.