Loose Threads

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite sweater. Take a moment to envision it in all its glory. Maybe it’s blue, or red, or maybe it carries a garish Christmas print, or the logo of your favorite sports team or band. When you wear it something just feels right. The way the fabric falls against the contours of your body, the way the neck has stretched out slightly and the elbows are worn through makes it perfect to you. It’s comfortable, it feels wonderful, and you couldn’t ever imagine loving another inanimate item of clothing quite like your sweater.

Now imagine that your favorite sweater had a lose thread, and suddenly you’re faced with a decision you never thought that you would have to make. Do you pull on the thread and risk the delicate stitch work unraveling? Do you try and find a pair of scissors and cut it off, leaving a gap in the intricate pattern? Or do you simply accept that even something as cherished as your favorite sweater can carry an imperfection and leave it alone?

Well, what would you do?

Now imagine that your favorite sweater is in fact the world. The loose neckline is the Northern Hemisphere, the stretched out hemming at the bottom that you have learned to love is the South Pole. That garish Christmas print or logo is actually a cluster of nations defined by borders of water and man-made lines carved into the earth. And that lose thread? Well that my dear reader is what we know as racial intolerance and religious vilification.

I know that it may seem like an odd analogy at first thought, but look a little deeper; look beyond the surface of this earth and see the world for what it truly is. Look at what we as humans truly are: a species of Homo sapiens stretched across the planet with alternate thoughts, feelings, physical attributes and social structures. Yet for all our differences, we are supposed to be bound by one thing: our humanity. Those differences that at first make us seem so incongruous, are merely another tawdry pattern interwoven into the compassion that binds us.

So why the fuck after thousands of years on this earth are we still killing one another in hate? Why are we the only species on the face of this earth at war with itself? And why the hell are we so willing to blindly accept the wedge being driven between races by faceless cowards and men who hide behind misconstrued messages of faith?

There has always been a loose thread in the fabric of the world. With a population of over seven billion people and over four thousand alternating religions, we are bound to have clashes on an ideological nature. But right now in this moment in time, we as a species seem so fucking intent on yanking on the filament until the world unravels like a shitty sweater and anarchy reigns supreme. The thing we love so much: life, is being ripped away from us. We are been bombarded every single day with public imagery of war and hate to the point where we now mistreat and mistrust our fellow man based on the colour of their skin or the faith that they practice.

We’re pulling; we’re yanking on that thread by dividing and segregating ourselves and playing right into the hand to the minute percentage of arseholes who genuinely want to watch the world burn. Yet no one seems to have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say fuck this. There’s a bunch of bullshit on social media that allows the general public to believe that they are making a stand against hate and cultural vilification. You can change your profile picture on Facebook to the colours of a flag belonging to a country who has suffered at the hands of terror. Or you can subscribe to anti-war pages that promote slightly skewed logic to their followers. But no one is really doing anything, are they?

We’re still stuck in this troublesome cycle of fear and loathing, feeding the hunger and needs of terror-based organizations and allowing them to grow. Imagine the world as a sweater once again. Imagine that the loose thread is you and your intolerance of a race of people that is rooted in the media you consume and propaganda you endure. Imagine that you start pulling on that thread; imagine that you start vilifying innocent men and women because of the faith they practice. In turn your friends do too, and the sweater unravels ever so slightly. Those people that you discriminate against grow bitter, and start to lash out against you. Tensions rise. Social order breaks down and the fabric of the world begins to deteriorate as the sweater becomes an unravelled pile of yarn.

Now imagine if you just left that thread the fuck alone. Rather than discriminate against a set of values you don’t fully understand you instead try to learn about them. Rather than create anger you create love and passion. Soon that tiny thread of cultural differentiation becomes obsolete and irrelevant in the lives of those around you and the compassion that binds us grows ever stronger.

We can either have a sweater made stronger by our cultural diversification with a few loose threads throughout the stitching that add character. Or we can pull at the loose filaments and watch our world unravel. The choice is ours to make. We can pretend to make a difference, or we can swallow our pride, roll up our sleeves and actively do something to overthrow religious and cultural vilification. Befriend a stranger, learn their story, and stop passing judgement on matters of faith you haven’t taken the time to understand or comprehend.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

69 thoughts on “Loose Threads”

  1. I sound like a broken record at this point but the media…the media….the media…and now with technology we are very much a part of that media fabric…everyone and their dog has a story, an opinion, a selfie. It don’t know what to believe half the time, I really don’t. Great read! 🙂

  2. An amazing post and beautifully written. So scarily honest and true but we can’t lose hope. I’d like to think I’d cherish that sweater and take the time to keep it intact.

  3. Great post-it’s something that needs to be talked about. Here in Nigeria there are so many divisions along ethnic and religious lines. We should all strive for peace and understanding.

  4. Very well written and great analogy. The sad truth is that some people only see their points of view and do not even try to understand anyone else. The differences make life worth living. If everyone was the same, life was boring as hell. But it’s for both sides to understand. This war did not just start, Paris might was the peak and made people realize what’s going on for a while but most of us ignored it. Now many feel personally attacked because Paris seems so closer than Syria. They now write how bad everything is, (no doubt that I was shocked too, not only what happened but also the fact that this seemed to had happen until people realize it can’t go on like that) and the sad thing is, that most people only write about the attack on social media because everyone is doing it. But instead of only talking about how shocked we are now (and how less we cared before), we should in fact do something. Nobody does anything without a reason. It wasn’t good at all what happened last week, but if the true origin won’t be found, they will keep attacking each other. Even more innocent people have to die. Isn’t the number of victims high enough yet?

  5. http://m.rescue.org/ this is the link to a tangible way to support those who are doing just what you have suggested. I agree with your post. The reality of the situation is that the loudest people speaking on the topic are the politicians, and the bigots -mostly through the media. If you pay close enough attention, there are photographers, bloggers, and good everyday people having discussions similar to what this post is saying. I would also implore those who have “bleeding hearts” over this situation and don’t know what steps to take to do just as you have suggested-start local. If you have money, donate to a local shelter for the homeless or to the international relief fund. If you have time, go visit a nursing home, prison, sick kids, an animal shelter. If you have any resources at all -say, the internet which is a huge resource -use them creatively and boldly. The fact that we have started a global conversation is a beautiful start. Let the offensive conversations, memes, and opinions flow freely because then our fears are unmasked! Then we can tackle then head on! Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    1. @ckeckwith32 Your comment is as engaging, as insightful as Chris’ post itself. Even if I didn’t agree (and I emphatically do with all the above – except about letting the sweater unravel 😉 ) the gauntlet is thrown. Complaining in Fb posts, forwarding hate propaganda/misinformation, and changing your ID photo alone doesn’t actually help anything. You said what I would have for me. Thank you for the link too!

      Great post, Chris! I haven’t finished reading all the comments, and honestly I’m out of time. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke As for me, I may be simple, but I know how to knit, crochet, & sew, so I do what I can, where I can with whatever I have to fix snags when I encounter them.

  6. Beautifully written, with emotion, feeling and like how the sweater is described similar to the world. We all can connect with something similar to a comfy sweater. If not, we are connected sentimentally to something even a blanket. This just gives me another way to view the world, something we should value. I mean, seriously….we need to survive so to speak. If we destroy the world….humans are gone. I am just rambling…good article!

  7. Hello, my graduation project is about how to combat religious radicalization in the country, so me and my colleague Maha started this campaign and I want you and all the people in the world apart of it, the reason that I’m sharing this with you because you are one of the people who cares about it.
    This project is about removing this hate to make people start living their live, to respect one another no matter what they believe in, so we need to start making a change, i want to use the hashtag #no_hate_zone we want to make it a trend we want to start changing humanity, we want to save earth so please be a part of the change.

    I’d really love if you talked about it or tweeted about it.


  8. http://www.marthastewart.com/307188/how-to-fix-a-snagged-thread-in-a-sweater

    I have a suggestion for how I think you could improve your metaphor. You suggest leaving the loose threads alone as a solution (saying that they add character) rather than pulling on the threads and unraveling the sweater. Obviously, your main point was to discourage unraveling the sweater (which you saw as being done by some people today), but leaving loose threads alone is not necessarily the best way to handle them. You can actually repair loose threads if you are willing to take the time to learn to sew or knit. Additionally, by promoting leaving loose threads alone, you are implicitly promoting a fatalistic attitude about the inevitability of racial discrimination (or at least racial tension); doing nothing about the loose threads is the essence of passivity. But this implication clearly clashes with your concluding call to action which promotes hope that these problems can be overcome if people actually work on them instead of just changing their profile pictures. All metaphors have flaws in them if you push them far enough, but considering that you titled your essay “Loose Threads” and considering that the way you dealt with this titular metaphor created discrepancies between what the metaphor was implying and what you were trying to say, I thought it was worth mentioning that loose threads can be fixed.

    1. I agree with trying to fix things provided the methods we employ will result to more good than harm but as it is, that is always a gray area. We can still try though.

  9. I see it as a family. When there is a child, who lacks something in his/her life, he/she is not satisfied. If there is not a safe society to take care of this child, we get troubles. If the society is full of angry children, we have even more problems. So the issue is good parenting around the globe. No matter who you are or where you are, when there are children or teenagers needing parents, the people, who have an ability to be a good person a good parent, could through a coin to make this world a better place. Easy it is not always, as we have many cultures in this world, and cultural differencies exists, and you may interpret things wrong, because of these differencies. Biologically, physically, chemically we really are the same everywhere, approximately. But culture and how the societies are based, they vary.

  10. But also in many cultures, the society is flexible and tender. It supports, it gives space, it is friendly, it understand and tolerates. The whole society is like a good parent. That is wise, that sort of system prevents bigger problems

  11. The prejudice currently being bellowed is also against LGBT people, as evidenced by a certain minister — embraced by US Presidential candidate Ted Cruz — who proposes killing gay people.

  12. LOVE this post …..and thanks for ‘like’ing mine ….maybe there’s enough of us out there to counteract the current insanity ….the next generation will crack it ….am ever hopeful and keeping the faith😊

  13. I like the idea of weaving that loose thread back into the sweater to make sure that it doesn’t come apart. It takes time to figure out where we need to fit it back in and the love in our hearts for the sweater itself to want to preserve it. The loose string might even give us a hard time, but we must persevere to hold the sweater, our life, our home, our family, our world together. Love and fortitude can make it happen and people talented enough, like you, to craft the word pictures to help us imagine how we can accomplish it.

    Thank you for sharing.

  14. Deep…and the sweater analogy is perfect…though I’ve shared this exact sentiment, I’ve never thought of it in those terms…truly something that everyone needs to read…thank you sir for sharing with me…

  15. Valid point but I am afraid the number of times you used cuss word f#$k this too shows you have lot of aggression ,we can’t solve aggression with aggression ,we need to generate literacy ,ethics , and minimise disparity

  16. Great message. The best you can do is spread the love to counteract all the insanity happening in this world (which is what it seems like your trying to do.) I must add, I love your writing! So easy and enjoyable to read.

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