I came across an inspiring parable in Robin Sharma’s book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. The book itself is a parable (or fable), but it includes a anecdotal story that I really found profound.
Here is my retelling of the story for kids:
A father sat down after a long day’s work and wanted to read the newspaper. His son kept bothering him. He wanted to talk and play.
The father had enough. He tore out a page of the newspaper with a picture of the world and ripped it into little pieces. He gave the pieces to the boy and told him to put the world back together.
It wasn’t long before the boy was back. “How did you put the world back together so fast?” asked the father.
The boy explained, “There was a photo of a man on the other side of the paper. Once I put the man back together, I was able to put the world back together, too.”
The Meaning of the Parable
Here is my interpretation of the story. Instead of trying to change the world or leave a lasting legacy, focus on just one person at a time. Start with yourself then help other individual people as well. The world is too big to fix all at once, but if we put ourselves back together first we are well on our way to knowing how to heal the world as well.
Parable Discussion Questions
- In what ways is the world broken today?
- Instead of focusing on those problems, what can we fix about ourselves first?
- Whose lives and brokenness can we help repair with compassion and love?
The Original Source of the Story
After doing some research, I found the original source of the story in Paulo Coelho’s collection of stories in Like the Flowing River. Here is Coelho’s version:
A father was trying to read the newspaper, but his little son kept pestering him. Finally, the father grew tired of this and, tearing a page from the newspaper—one that bore a map of the world—he cut it into several pieces and handed them to his son.
“Right, now you’ve got something to do. I’ve given you a map of the world and I want to see if you can put it back together correctly.”
He resumed his reading, knowing that the task would keep the child occupied for the rest of the day. However, a quarter of an hour later, the boy returned with the map.
“Has your mother been teaching you geography?” asked his father in astonishment.
“I don’t even know what that is,” replied the boy. “But there was a photo of a man on the other side of the page, so I put the man back together and found I’d put the world back together too.”