Evening Out the ODS

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Use this allegory to teach children to work together: They’d
never heard of teams before-it was always each man for himself in
the land of Od.

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Once, a long time ago, in the land of Even, there lived a very
peculiar people. They lived in the province of Od-and odd was how
all the other provinces saw them. But, as is usually the case among
people, they saw themselves as perfectly normal. It bothered them
not a bit that their long necks curved around into a giant C-so
their eyes were able to gaze admiringly at themselves. For all that
mattered to these people of Od was how they fared-how they looked,
how they sounded, how they respected themselves.

Of course, with an attitude such as this, there was often great
talk among the people of Od.

They argued: Who would be first? Who was most beautiful? Who was
strongest and most powerful? Of course, all the people of Od felt
they were and were willing to fight to the death to prove it. There
were terrible battles among the men and they rammed each other with
their mighty C backs to prove their unsurpassed strength. There
were quiet battles among the women and they told lies about one
another. And there were battles among the children-the fiercest
competitors of all, because they had learned from the elders to win
at any cost. They were not satisfied with simply winning; they
needed to punish one another for times in the past when they hadn’t
won.

Well, life went on for many years this way in the province of
Od. And those who won their battles adorned the humps of their
backs with crowns of jewels and capes of fur so all would know to
admire and respect them. Of course, no one even noticed because
the
inhabitants of Od looked only at themselves.

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Until one day…

It happened that the King of Even was visiting his many
provinces and came upon the land of Od. He was shocked to see the
likes of so many people hunched over in self-admiration. And he was
hurt that so many had adorned themselves as kings. As he mingled
among the people, he realized that though they admired themselves
for awhile, they soon became disappointed because someone else was
always close behind to prove they were better.

“These are the most unhappy people in my kingdom,” thought the
King. “I must certainly help them.”

So, being wise and kind, the King set out to show his people how
to be happy. He soon found how difficult a task this would be,
however, for the people were so wrapped up in themselves, they
didn’t even notice their King had come. The King tried speaking to
them, but it was difficult to get their attention-they were not
used to listening to anyone but themselves.

So he decided instead to show them. He began by waiting for
someone to lose a battle. He then rushed over with cloth and water
to clean their wounds and pat their injured back. Sometimes he
brought the loser food and drink to nourish the body and sometimes
a hug to nourish a bruised ego. In time, the King of Even got their
attention. They became curious about such service and began asking
questions of him.

“Is this some kind of game?”

“Do you want to fight?”

“Don’t you want to win?”

This was the opportunity the King had waited for.

“I’m here to wage a war all right!” he said. “And I’ll begin by
dividing you into teams.”
“Teams?” puzzled the people of Od. They’d never heard of teams
before-it was always each man for himself in the land of Od.

But the King of Even ignored their puzzling and continued with
his plan counting them off into two even teams. Then he proceeded
to arm each team with a huge rock. Of course, it was impossible for
one member to wield such a heavy weapon single-handedly. So, two,
then three, then four at a time took turns lifting the rock and
passing it up to the front lines of their team. Slowly their heads
were lifted from the slumped-over position to an upright one that
was better for aiming, until finally the two front lines were face
to face.

For the first time those people of Od looked into each other’s
eyes. They were surprised at how beautiful the other women were,
how strong and powerful the other men. And as the children observed
the elders, they were even more surprised to see how like them they
were.

The King of Even left Od that night. He forgave the people and
hoped that now they would work together. And as he passed through
the entrance gates of the province, he placed the rocks-one to the
right and one to the left-as a reminder to the people that when
they work together, they can accomplish more than working
alone.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
*Ask: Why did the people of Od compete with each other? What did
their fierce competition do to their community? How do you feel
when you lose a game or a competition? Have you ever felt like you
have to win at all costs?

*Say: This story is an allegory. The pretend people represent
real people. The people of Od represent competitive people who hate
to lose.

*Ask: Who does the King of Even represent? (Allow varied
answers.)

*Say: The King of Even could represent lots of people. If we
think of our king as Jesus, how do you think Jesus feels when we
don’t work together? How can we work to help each other succeed
instead of fight to be the big winner?

Read aloud Philippians 2:3-4.

*Ask: What does this Scripture tell us our attitude should be
toward one another?
Have kids hold hands in a big circle and each name one way they
can cooperate with people this week. Give each child a felt letter
C to remind them to avoid being like the people of Od.

Patricia Giunta writes delightful stories from her home in
Illinois.

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