The prompt “together” reminded me of a story I had been told as a young girl. The story that has stayed with me since today. A story which had implications I hadn’t thought about.. A story of a lumberjack and his five sons.
There lived a lumberjack who was extremely old and knew he was to die. He had five sons who never got along. He wished to teach them a valuable lesson so he told them each to go and get two sticks.
Being obedient sons and knowing their father would not live long, all the sons went and got two sticks. The father then asked each son to break one of the sticks that they had gathered into two halves. Each son easily broke one of his sticks.
Then the father asked them to hand the remaining sticks over and tied these sticks with a string. He handed the bundle of sticks to his oldest son and asked him to break it. He tried as hard as he could but could not break the bundle of sticks. The father asked the bundle to be passed onto the second oldest and asked him to do the same. He, too, could not break the bundle.
The bundle of sticks made its way from son to son but none of the sons could break the sticks. After the last had tried and failed, the father smiled and asked the sons if it was easier to break a stick at a time or five together. The sons answered one at a time and the father said, “There is power in unity”.
The sons lived as one even after the father’s death.
This story is one of my favourites to this day because I truly believe in the power of unity. I had once been made to question the validity of unity when in freshman year of high school, I learned that Mussolini’s symbol of fascism was the fasces: a bundle of sticks tied together to depict the strength of unity. I don’t remember if I laughed or choked. I think it was some mix of those.
It is fascinating to see the two depictions of the very same concept. I am not one to say that one is right and the other is wrong. I just know that to me, there is power in unity. There is beauty in unity. But just because something is part of a whole does not mean it is not whole itself.