Recently, as I was reading a book on early American history, I ran across a memorable metaphor that is easy to understand: filaments of flax work together to form a strong thread.
This idea was discussed by the Founding Fathers as they considered uniting the colonies to form a strong union.
Combining filaments of flax into thread was an image that early Americans could understand, since the process was a familiar occurrence. After thinking about the metaphor, I began to realize that combining small entities to form stronger unions is still common in our professional, national, global and personal lives. What would the world do without the idea of unions?
Examples of “filaments of flax that form thread” are everywhere. Many of us remember when we had the 48 states; now we have 50. Our union has grown over the centuries and may continue to grow, although some believe it is vulnerable. The filaments have formed the stronger thread that still has much power in the world.
A consortium is another example of the filaments-to-thread metaphor. A consortium unites groups to form a larger entity in achieving a common goal. Business consortia unite resources and talent to solve problems and bring about needed change.
Labor unions have been in existence for a long time to unite workers in order to give them bargaining power to bring about better working conditions. Although these unions are sometimes controversial, they have undoubtedly worked to bring about needed change for workers.
Think tanks unite experts in providing advice or other ideas for change in political or economic fields.
Connectional churches work together by providing financial, educational and spiritual support to individual congregations. These connections, through the individual churches, can work together to provide outreach and assistance to areas all over the world.
What about neighborhood organizations that work together to make their living area safer and more beautiful? What about schools in a community that form a local system that provides a wide range of services to students in a large area? What about the United Nations?
Every athlete knows that a team is a group of individuals who must work together selflessly to win games. Each team member is a necessary part of the whole that brings about success.
And, of course, families are examples of the filaments-to-thread metaphor. Individual family members contribute their own talents, personalities, strengths, work, insights and potential for growth to form a unit that is more than the sum of its parts. Each family is different and has its niche in society, whether it be human or animal. Strong family filaments make strong thread, so to speak.
There are more filaments-to-thread scenarios than can be listed here. Come up with your own list and be thankful for ways that working together can be a benefit in many situations.
Forming unions is necessary in many aspects of life.
In other words, “No one can whistle a symphony,” as H.E. Luccock said. “It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute teacher in Wilson County.