A man had several children. He loved his children and provided for them as any loving father would. And, like most children, they often disagreed and fought. But, the father would bring the children together and make them deal with their disagreements.
One by one, as the children grew up, they moved out of the father’s house. However, they all stayed close by. One son moved into a house a block away. A daughter moved into the house next door. Another son moved across town. Each child moved into his or her own house, married, and began to start their own family.
Also, one by one, the children stopped talking to one another. Their disagreement and fights became more serious and divisive. And, since they no longer lived with their father, they no longer came together to work out their differences.
Whenever they saw one another at the store, or on the sidewalk, or at the park, they would point out their differences and disagreements. Often, the arguments would become loud and heated, such that people walking by would notice. Eventually, the people in town knew the family as “the divided family.”
The name “divided family” grieved the father, so he invited his children to come together to work out their differences. They all agreed. But, one by one, the children declined the invitation when they heard that the other children were invited as well. Each one refused to get together with their father as long as the other children were invited.
The father continued to spend time with his children one-on-one, but he could not convince the children to come together. Whenever he attempted to invite more than one of his children to his house, the children would refuse and point out their disagreements and differences with the other children.
As the grandchildren grew older and moved out of their parents’ houses, they also began to disagree with one another. They would often argue with their parents as well. While each of the children and grandchildren and (eventually) great grandchildren loved to spend time with the father, they refused to get together with one another.
Whenever the father tried to bring them together, the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren would complain to the father about the others, and tell him that their family was right and the other families were wrong. They explained passionately to their father why they could not get together with those other families.
One day, in his grief, the father wrote a letter. In the letter, the father acknowledged the hurt, disagreements, and arguments that had split his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. He acknowledged that it would take great efforts on all their parts to bring them all back together again.
“However,” he concluded, “in all of your arguments and disagreements and divisions, you have forgotten one thing: In my perspective, as long as you live as separate families, you are living a lie. You are one family – my family – and I will never see you nor treat you as multiple families.”