As a kindergartener, my favorite part of the day was storytime. Maybe it was the alluring rainbow rug or the break from learning about numbers, but I always looked forward to the sitting attentively at the foot of our teacher with my classmates. Mrs. Haywood read us stories about what happens when you give a mouse a cookie, when A tells B, and B tells C, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,” and when cows find a typewriter and revolt against Farmer Brown.
Most of those stories were funny fantasies that entertained a room of five-year-olds. However, Mrs. Haywood also managed to slip in poignant stories that taught our class about growing up as part of a community.
One such story was Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. The story tells of three soldiers returning home from war exhausted and famished. When they reached town, the soldiers could not convince the peasants to share any food. The soldiers then declared, “We’ll have to make stone soup,” and offered to share. The peasants realized that what they had could make the meal better. One by one, members of the community began to contribute food to the stone soup. With peasants and soldiers working together, the town had made a meal fit for a king!
Although the peasants were hesitant at first, they were ultimately eager to share their food with the soldiers. They eventually understood that in a fruitful community, everyone must contribute to the common good. In 1 Peter 4:10, the Bible says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
We can all learn something from Stone Soup. Communities aren’t built through selfish acts; rather, you need a group of people willing to share their individual gifts. As part of our Christian duty, we must offer up our talents to serve the common good and support our community. If we contribute to the pot, our communities across the country would reflect God’s kingdom.
Over the years, I’ve realized how much community means to me — not only as a Christian, but as an U.S. citizen as well. Mrs. Haywood’s efforts to instill in her students a need for community as a guiding principle worked on me. Wherever I go, I try to find ways to impact my surrounding community for the common good. For this reason, I chose to intern at the Eleison Group LLC this summer. I wanted to work with an organization that understood that serving the common good and supporting those without a voice is the highest reward. As part of my work as an intern, I helped roll out a program for Eleison that truly embodies community building and sharing your God-given gifts.
Eleison is taking the principles behind the Stone Soup story and using them to help the Democratic party return to its roots. Like those who contribute to the pot in the story, in our “Stone Soup Initiative,” we ask that campaigns contribute their time and talents to their communities. In return, Eleison and other partners will contribute their services to help improve campaigns. Our values as an organization made us realize that, as concerned citizens, we need to keep adding what we can to the stone soup of the United States. As the peasants learned, each of us has something to offer, and it’s easier for others to give when they see generosity around them.
The United States prides itself on its mixing pot of experiences, cultures, and peoples. Making stone soup is no simple process, but if everyone contributes to the mixing pot of the U.S., our communities will be as prosperous as the peasants eating a meal fit for a king.