The Common Good

Loose Threads

I noticed a loose thread in a blanket the other day and was reminded of something my mom always said: Never pull on a loose thread. All that will do is make it worse. It’ll yank on the other threads and wind up creating a knot. Even if you do manage to remove the one loose thread without doing too much damage to the fabric, it’ll leave a space that starts the nearby threads working their way loose, too.

Single thread, itsmejust /
Single thread, itsmejust /

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Soon, the whole thing unravels. Removing even one thread from the fabric creates big problems.

Isn’t it the same with us?

Each of us is a thread woven into the fabric of our world. We’re looped around each other, pulled tightly to one another, intimately bound to one another. We’re so closely intertwined that we can’t be separated without making it all unravel.

By ourselves, we are a thread. Together, we are a blanket.

The weaver made it so.

Everyone and everything is bound together. Everything that we do affects others in some way. Every exhaled breath changes our environment. Every interaction with another person touches them on some level. Every act of love and compassion affects them. Every moment of selfishness and indifference does, too.

It’s a miraculous thing, the way we come together and form something much, much bigger than anything we can be individually. We get to be more than just one solitary thread. It’s a great gift, really.

And it’s not really a popular concept these days.

We hear a lot about individual threads, but very little about each thread’s place in the social fabric. We hear about individual rights, individual liberty, individual freedom, but very little about collective responsibilities and the common good. Stephen Colbert has coined a term that I love: “Meedom.” I’m the only thread that matters.

We delude ourselves into thinking we’re the entire blanket when we’re only one thread.

When threads work their way loose and pull apart, the whole fabric starts to unravel. We see that in our world, don’t we? We’re frayed and coming apart in so many ways.

The well-off pull away from the needy. Nations distance themselves from other nations and pursue what they perceive as their self-interest. Religions separate themselves from others in a show of superiority. People pull apart out of hatred and mistrust and prejudice and selfishness.

Our blanket has unraveled in many places, so much so that much of our warmth has escaped.

In his book It’s Really All About God — Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian, Samir Selmanovic puts it this way: “We want supremacy, but that is not what we really need. What we really need is to learn to be a part of the whole.“

In order to become whole, we need to take our place as one thread within the whole blanket. We need to help the weaver repair our snags and knit our world back together again.

There‘s a lot to be done, but it can be done — so long as we the threads make ourselves available to a Weaver who is passionate about repairing our tears and knitting us all back together.

Joe Kay is a professional writer living in the Midwest.

Image: Single thread, itsmejust /

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