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Music and Spoken Word: Together we are strong

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given June 4, 2017.

Even as advances in communication help people around the world connect like never before, it also seems that division and discord around the world are reaching new levels. Differing beliefs, values and convictions too often lead to hostility and even conflict. We may wonder how we can find peace and security in what can be an unsettling world.

Thousands of years ago, the Greek storyteller Aesop told of a father who noticed similar problems among his many sons. They always seemed to be quarreling, despite their father’s pleadings for unity. One day he gathered his sons around him, showed them a bundle of sticks bound with cords, and asked them to break it. The oldest son strained and strained with all his might but was unable to break the bundle. The next son tried and failed as well, and so on down to the youngest. No one could break the bundle, no matter how hard he tried. Then the father removed one stick from the bundle and asked his littlest son to break it — which he did easily. The lesson was clear to all of them: Alone we are weak and easily broken, but together we are strong (see "The Bundle of Sticks," edited by Thomas James, in "Aesop's Fables," 1872).

What’s true of sticks is also true of marriages, families, communities and nations. No matter how strong we may be individually, our strength and security are greatly multiplied when we stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand with each other.

This doesn’t mean that we must let go of our deeply held convictions. Nor does it necessarily mean that we ignore our differences. In fact, we need those differences. Unity is not sameness; it’s making wise use of the uniqueness everyone can contribute.

Unity means being quick to forgive and ready to set aside our self-interest. It means extending compassion and understanding. It’s not easy, but if we have each other’s best interests at heart, if we are patient and respectful, then bound together by cords of love, we can withstand — and achieve — almost anything. That’s the power of unity.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), and The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MDT on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at