I think most all would agree that unity is a good thing. I think it’s more that we disagree on how to get there.
Perhaps we could get there faster if we understood what unity is not.
Hear me, friends. It’s easy to fall prey to some other especially luring fallacy. But note…
Unity is not uniformity.
Allow me to say that once more… for emphasis sakes, of course.
Unity is not uniformity.
Unity is the state of being one — all our parts combined as one, making up the whole.
Uniformity is the state of being the same — there are no different parts.
I’ll thus say it time number three: unity is not uniformity.
So if we’re honest enough to acknowledge such — knowing we undoubtedly have some significant differences that affect our culture and community and all that goes into that — how do we move forward in a healthy way? How do we do life together? I mean, it’s no secret that “united” is the sole adjective describing the “States” we live in.
Perhaps the best question I heard recently was posed by a sage, professional and personal mentor, acknowledging the differences we each bring to the table.
Noting our differences — especially those that come from our families of origin, ethnic backgrounds, and previous experiences, for example — what happens when we disagree? If there are different parts that comprise the whole, there will indeed be disagreement; we witness such daily on the national stage. And sometimes, dare I submit, it’s a fairly ugly, oft juvenile display.
I suppose we could choose to respond to disagreement in an unhealthy way. We could unhealthily respond by storing up resentment. Maybe even quietly. Just holding it all in, keeping a distinct, internal record, and then one day exploding — maybe one of those not-so-attractive verbal vomits — finding all fault and blame in the other.
Or… we could choose to respond in a healthy way.
I return to the words of my wise mentor…
Knowing unity is not uniformity, knowing differences thus exist, how is wise to respond when we don’t agree with what’s unfolding?
First, ask questions instead of assume intentions.
(Isn’t that the truth? We’re so good at thinking we know why someone else did what they did; we assume we’ve got it all figured out. It makes it easy to find fault with them that way.)
Second, own your transference.
(Oh, I like this one. Transference is the tendency to interpret our current experience by our last one. That is so true… and so prominent! And yet… it is typically inaccurate and unfair. Transference causes us to craft untrue narratives in our own mind.)
And thirdly, acknowledge your role in the community.
(Recognize your role. Feel the freedom in it! But don’t assume you are what you are not. The kid doesn’t get to be the parent; he’s not capable of it. Therefore, he doesn’t decide what’s for dinner every night. Acknowledge your role; know what decisions are yours to make. Know where you have a view — the ability to see what’s happening — a voice — a contribution to what’s happening — and a vote — a say in what’s happening.)
Step one, though, is understanding that unity is not uniformity.
Ok, that’s time number four.
But some things are clearly a little more challenging for us to comprehend.