There’s an old legend about a man who had settled and founded a small village and grew to be its elder statesman. It was there that he had raised four fine sons, and toward the end of his life he called them all together to hand over the responsibilities for the village. To the oldest son he granted guardianship over the life and work of the community that the business and economic environment would continue to provide opportunities for its citizens to work and prosper. The second son he appointed as guardian for education so the children would grow in the love of learning and knowledge thus preparing them for life and leadership. The third son he named guardian of worship, ensuring each and every person the freedom and opportunity to practice religion in his or her chosen way. And to the youngest he made guardian of play and recreation so that the fruits of life might be enjoyed in abundance. . . . Thus the man’s work would be carried on by his sons.
This story reminds us of how in any generation, any society or any culture, mankind has been created to live – that is, not in isolation but in community. And for any community to flourish it must provide these four elements – work, education, worship, and play. For it is work that humans were made to do. And to teach and learn, that is to increase in knowledge is how humans progress. Worship is a necessary recognition of man’s own limitations, and the acknowledgement of gratitude toward that Greater Power who provides our blessings and shares our burdens, reminding us that life existed before us and perpetuates beyond us. Finally, it is play that binds us together both through nature and with one another, allowing us to enjoy the pleasures in this life and the many fruits it produces.
The tale of the man and his four sons is only folklore, of course, but its truths are of real life; for the man who was founder of the village and became its elder statesman represents the Creator. And as for his four sons who he appointed to be guardians of the village? They would be us.