Thoughts on Unity

September 17, 2012 § 5 Comments

I was recently asked to create a poster about “unity”, which will also happen to coincide with International Peace Day. Right up my alley, right? (By the way, the above is not the final poster – that will come tomorrow.) 

Yet the subject gives me pause. I know, I’m the peace & love & all things positive girl, and unity is an honorable goal, dream, ideal ~ so what great reflection is needed?

I just know that the concept made me ask myself, what exactly is “unity”? What is it to me and what is it to others, and would both answers be the same?

Is the concept of unity as simple as “united we stand, divided we fall”?  Is it as cosmic as the humanity / earth / universe connection? Is it “we are all connected”, or is it “we are all one”?  Is it about collective consciousness or collective harmony? Is unity of spirit or cause or thought?

You may think I’m over-thinking, and you might not be wrong about that (I can do it so well!). After all, the definition’s right there in the dictionary. But I do believe that the concept of unity is wide open for interpretation, not in small measure due to the chaos in our world ~ so I pondered. (Bear with me, if you like. But this a long one, so if your eyes are already glazing over, no worries.)

Of all the questions above, I would answer that unity is agreement and harmony, preferably originating from love, kindness and respect. At its core, it’s about more than one person standing up for the same beliefs, forming a united front. It can be a fight as well as a peace.

To me, unity is not “one mind”, “one heart”, “one world”, but a collection of minds and hearts with common purposes. In the bigger picture, unity is a vision of the great possibilities when humanity stands together for all that is right and good, when they have each others’ backs, when they cheer on others’ successes and give a hand when others stumble or fall, when they say “no” to personal abuses of any kind and “no” to attempts to sabotage their basic liberties ~ and when they say “yes” to love.

And of course, in the grandest overview, unity knows no boundaries between race, color or creed. Unity does not judge, nor allow differing opinions to divide us (humanity) as a whole.

But what if one group’s idea about what is “good and right” are opposed to another’s?

Different schools of thought have different opinions on how best to use and conserve our natural resources. Different molecular combinations create different personalities with different aptitudes. We say we want to be respectful towards different cultures ~ but what if one involves rituals that others find repulsive?

These scenarios prompt that pesky thing called disagreement ~ and if unity is pressed, trouble brews. Who’s to say: “be like us”, “think as we think”, “do as we do”, “ours is the better way”?

One may even feel a certain righteousness in their beliefs, which, as such, will probably not be well received. Oh there will be unities, but they’ll be divided from one another. In the Civil War, for example, while our country was ripped apart, each “side” was firmly united within their cause.

We want a world that “comes together”. But how does that happen? And if someone vehemently disagrees or feels something is an affront to humanity, should they be “tolerant” in the name of peace? Do they turn the other cheek? Just let it be? Or do they speak up, risking boiling tensions and most certainly a disruption to the flow of unity?

The ideal of unity can dissolve like a desert mirage. Emotions rise. Struggles ensue. Something that resembles disrespect can grow into resentment and anger.

I can see the bright hope to live in a world where we all get along ~ and I can also see, within a blink of the eye, ways it can go awry. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a pipe-dream, but the harsh truth is that there are situations ~ and people ~ that can clash with enormous discord, on both small and grand scales ~ and these clashes put the concept of unity into a state of perpetual hope, rather than entrenched in a world reality.

It’d be beautiful to exist with unity and peace reigning supreme under love, but there are many forces at work and not all are on board, much less on the same page. History has shown that there are those who would fool us. Unity is not a dream reserved only for those with positive hearts. Everyone does not share the same vision.

I’ll even admit that the concept of broad, sweeping unity scares me because it contains the potential to be disguised and misused. I’m too fiercely independent, and love my personal freedom far too much to blindly follow any mass movement, even those claiming the best of intentions, if it raises a red flag or causes even a quiver on my spiritual antenna.

And then there’s this: can we have harmony without unity? Just leave each other alone to be who they want to be? (Oh boy, I think I’m going down Alice’s rabbit hole…)

So, what to do? Imagine? Dream? Hope? Pray? Sure. But, of course the best thing is to live it. By standing together within your family, among your friendships, in your community, your schools, and experiencing unity in small, accountable, rewarding ways.

I believe that there are indeed bonds of unity that can be stronger than any outside divisive effort, and that there is great power there with great possibility for what is “good and right” for the greater whole. And I believe that those who dream of a better world should never, ever stop dreaming. But I also think we should remember, as a wise person once said, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”… not before. In other words, you can’t force it. While you may live it, and share by example, and maybe even influence, you cannot make a horse drink the particular well of water you’ve led them to.

Harmony, love, peace, unity…  those are some lofty goals. And in some respects unrealistic. But one thing’s for sure ~ in one way or another, we’re all in this together, so it doesn’t hurt to try, does it.

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