Thursday, August 16, 2007

Breaking Sticks

Freedom Shenanigan #10
Breaking Sticks

There is a fairly well-known story about a father with three sons. The father is reaching a point in his life where he wants to pass on his successful business to one of his sons. In many cultures, the first-born would get the job. But the father wanted to make sure that the business that he sweated blood and tears and slaved over for years and built up into a thriving enterprise, would survive his replacement. So the father devised a simple little test for each one of his sons to take, separately, without the other two sons being present.

He wrapped a bundle of kindling with a stout string to hold the bundle together. He then presented the bound bundle to the first son and told the son to break it. No matter how hard the first son tried, he could not break the bundle. The father then gave the bundle to his second son and asked that son to do the same, break the bundle. Again, the results were the same. The second son could not break the bundle either. So finally, feeling a little disappointed with his first two sons, the father gave the bundle to the third son, and said, "break the bundle." The third son contemplated the bundle for a short while and then with great deliberation, took out a knife, cut the string and then commenced to break each kindling stick, one at a time. The third son got the job.

My father told of a similar story as young pattern-maker during World War II. Because of his skill as a pattern-maker, he was exempt from military service, but was ordered to the Bremerton Shipyards in Bremerton, Washington, to build the patterns for large valves, fittings, and propellers for war ships. He told me that when he was presented with a blueprint for his first job, it was so complex that he could not make head nor tail out of it. As he sat there with his chin resting on his two palms, he was feeling helpless and lost in an impenetrable fog. He was stumped. Just then, an old-timer walked by and saw that my father was in a serious dilemma and made a simple suggestion. He told my father to look for something in the blueprint that he recognized, and then build on that. Sure enough, a piece of the blueprint sprang out at him as something he knew, and my father went on to complete the pattern. It was a life-changing moment for him, and he passed that wisdom on to me.

So much of life presents itself as a bundle of sticks, or a complicated blueprint. If we try to take on the whole bundle of sticks, or understand the entire blueprint all at once, we find the task too daunting, get frustrated, and turn away or give up. Thus it is with our struggle to preserve, protect and defend freedom and liberty.

Rest of the story HERE


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