Our Family Picnic Analogy

In raising our children, we have tried to teach them the difference between cooperation and competition.  The scriptures have a been a big help to us in this regard especially in pertaining to spiritual gifts.

We have created an analogy that we speak of often in our family.  The main point is that each member of the family has different spiritual gifts, talents, etc.  and that each is vital to the success of the family.   Other  scriptures that have helped us are:  D&C 84:109 and 1 Cor 12:21

  1 Cor 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the ahead to the feet, I have no need of you.

So the analogy is of a picnic.

God sent us down together with different gifts and talents as stewardships necessary to the happiness and success of the whole unit.  The most basic and essential unit being family.  When one member selfishly hordes their gift or is pushed away or fails to adequately utilize that gift the whole unit suffers in want.   No one can claim that their part is more essential as others, the blanket is as important as the grill is as important as the ice chest is as important as the bread and chips, etc.  The family runs into great trouble when  members start extorting their talents against each other.  (I’ll only give you a soda if you give me a bag of chips.)  Only when we cooperate and share alike, is everyone happy and the unit effective.

To often  we fail to see that in building our family members we are building our selves and strengthening our selves.  We are largely known by who we associate with and we largely rise and fall based on the support structure we have beneath us.

The same is true in any unit.  Competition is a form of extortion in which the strong asserts his will and forces compliance, demanding some kind of supposed mandate.

There’s a movie we love called “The Big Country,” in which this point is illustrated by the main character played by Gregory Peck. He comes across to all, including his fiance as a greenhorn pushover because he refuses to compete, instead weighing the pros and cons opf engagement with nothing to prove to anyone. Late in the movie he agrees to settle a score with the fiance’s ranch foreman quietly without knowledge of anyone else. They thoroughly thrash each other and agree to a draw and then he asks, “now what have we proved?”

So for those that believe in “healthy competition” (what could be healthy about something inherently antagonistic?) Perhaps you should answer these questions for yourself and ask what it is competition truly seeks to achieve for the winner, for the loser? Then start looking at models of cooperation in business and social circles and see if you can’t spot the obvious advantages to all in such an arrangement.

We talked yet again of this analogy with our children last night.  Asa is bringing the grill, Sherrad the ice chest, Virginia has the blanket, Jasper has the buns and chips.  Today Sherrad didn’t like the way Asa was acting and said, “I don’t like the grill you’re bringing!”


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