The Greatest use of life is to spend it for something useful–William James
Hamdard Dawakhana is natural medicine manufacturer in Pakistan. The owner of the Hamdard Hakeem Saeed was also a philanthropist and publisher of only (in early 50’s and late 60’s) children Magazine “Naunehal”. I read a story in one of the issues similar to this:
There was an old farmer. He had four sons. His sons used to quarrel with one another. Once, the old farmer fell sick. He wanted that he should teach his sons that Unity is Strength. He asked them to bring a bundle of sticks. Then he called each of his sons to break the bundle of sticks. All of them tried to break it turn by turn but failed. The old man ordered his sons to untie the bundle of sticks and then break it one by one. They could break all the sticks easily. Then the old farmer said, “Dear sons! Now you have seen yourself that divided you fall and united you stand.” The sons understood that “Unity is Strength” They all promised to remain united in future. The old man died in peace.
The story was in Urdu and little modified with 7 sons, and was more detailed, which I don’t remember now. But there are many families like this who have not learned the need of unity with siblings. They were raised fighting with each other, rampant with jealousy, envy, rivalry, bullying, often supported by parents favoring one and ignoring others. I have witnessed this even when children grown to the mid ages and passed on to future generations. Rarely this weed of poisonous hate is eradicated and kept cropping up.
Typically children form groups to favor one and fight others group. In larger families even these groups are volatile. They change loyalty/sides and often there is fight within the group. They will bad mouth each other, create false stories and spread lies. Talk bad behind their back. Often their spouse jump in and also participate in the fight. Not all siblings are like that. The sensible ones will try to be away, but others form a group to target that particular sibling, even if he/she is minding his/her own business. Elders were targeted more, because they were resentful of them for various reasons. One sibling will force other to fight the 3rd, and of course back his/her efforts with false stories. Often they refuse nto dine together even if they were invited by. One family will invite all other siblings, and someone declines the invitation with excuse, if you will invite so and so then I will not come. Even if they all gather, some will choose to sit in different room and not talk to others at all.
If these children have any sense then they would understand, the world is full of hate but the hate should not be among siblings. Siblings are not competition, to get ahead from them. There is a vast world to satisfy the urges of domination, control and being superior. I only often think that only if there is a group therapy focused to this social problem mostly prevalent in South Asian families. If I have this task, I will select the family and gather all of the siblings in a room and ask them to:
1. Reflect what they have achieved with their actions? Do they ever think if this hate is not eliminated then it will perpetuate to the next generation. Siblings and their children can become a big power, a clan if not fight.
2. What will be their legacy? 100 years from now, the 4th generation will not remember what kind of car one drove, what kind of house one lived, but they will appreciate what one has left behind. What will they be leaving behind them?
3. Do they ever think if this hate is not eliminated then it will perpetuate to the next generation, and if they learn anything from outside their house and mature to understand that it is wrong, they will resent nobody but their own parents.
4. Don’t they think it is wrong that some of them are actually directly or indirectly encouraging their children to copy their behavior against uncle/aunts/cousins?
5. Don’t think if someone is polite and humble with them, that mean there is something sinister behind the surface, or they have won in their dirty game. Not all siblings think the way they do, some have genuine sibling love and try to forget stupidity of others.
6. Do they realize the amount of time and brain wasted on this useless fight? There are zillions opportunities outside the family to prove the superiority.
7. Human brain has a tendency to repeat the thought. If one will think about a particular subject, the brain will work hard to excel in that particular subject. So fighting and playing stupid senseless politics is actually misuse of brain power. This energy can be channeled to do something positive and worthwhile.
8. My mother told me ones; people have brain, acquire higher knowledge, but live life of animal. I asked her to elaborate, she said “what is life of animal, eat, sleep, produce off springs, and fight for territory. Humans are “Ashraful Makhlooqat” they should live for something bigger, something useful, something to remember.” I will ask these siblings can they evaluate themselves, where they stand, with my mother’s idea of life.
9. Due respect of elder sibling is the noble thing to do. What comes around goes around. Telling elders what to do is rude. Directives from juniors often create anger, a polite suggestion is always considered.
10. Do not denigrate the work of others to show you are better than other. That only makes one look stupid, and breeds resentment. Others take advantage and join you for fulfillment of their agenda.
11. Some of you may be more pious Muslim, some in your opinion heretic, but who are you to judge others on the basis of religion. Religious Piety is a personal matter, and each person is responsible for her/his own acts. It is just your opinion as Allah knows better than you. Bringing Piety in your relation does nothing but damage the relation.
12. I will ask them to take out their ego and place them in a locker outside the room, and approach each sibling individually to talk and work to resolve whatever issues or complain they have. Promise to do the same in future if there are any issues. Forgive and forget the past and be honest and humble with each other in future. Reciprocate politeness and humbleness of others.
Since I do not have this opportunity to gather them in a room, I am sending them this story, with hope that when they read this they will look in the mirror of this story, and contemplate on the points I have noted above. And will work on building bridges and minimize hate. My prayers are with them.