The concept of Unity has come to prominence lately, with recent events bringing people together. And with regards to those events and the idea of Unity, I wanted to put in my two cents on the concept. So, here we go.

I’ve seen much of the discussion of Unity come from a religious, spiritual, or philosophical perspective. And while that is a beautiful thought, I have a few issues with what I’ve seen coming out of those camps.

1) Self-righteousness – groups I’ve seen put forth the idea of Unity dream of its implementation through conformity. Christians think the world would be better if everyone was Christian, vegans believing the same if everyone abstained from eating meat and using animal products, feminists think they’ll save the world with feminist, and etcetera. Regardless of whatever measure is used, it all boils down to one thought:  The world would be better if everyone was like me. And to that I can but ask, “Why are you so special? Why is your way the one, true righteous path? Why must all others forsake themselves and their identity for your vision?” Does your Unity only come to fruition by the subjugation of others?

2) Everything would be better if we were all the same – even if the conformity I mentioned in my first point came to pass, would people still be harmonious? Hasn’t religion provided points contrary to that throughout history? Even within the same religion, different people interpret things differently. Catholics and Protestants are both Christians, and share the same basic beliefs. But these groups still come into conflict even with those same base beliefs, as seen in Ireland for Christianity or in the Middle East with the Sunnis and the Shiites. I guess the Devil is in the details, as they say.

In my eyes, Unity is something unlike all of that. It sees others not as threats or rivals, nor does it strive to understand and respect others, nor does it strive to embrace others out of love. Unity is seeing no distinction between others and ourself. All the world is in us, and we are in all in the world.

But what does it really mean? What will it really take to get there?

Can you see yourself in another person, and them in you? Whom do you imagine when you do this: a parent, a lover, a child, or a friend? Indeed, that is the correct answer, but it is also an incorrect answer. Or perhaps more gently, it is an incomplete answer.

Can you see yourself in a rival as well? What about in a stranger? Can you see yourself in a romantic interest who rebuffed your advances? Can you see yourself in another person who practices a different religion, belongs to a different political party, or has a different sexual orientation?

Can you see yourself in an enemy? Can you see yourself in someone you hate or condemn?

The world is not lacking monsters, and they must be challenged and overcome. But each and every monster, every murderer, every rapist, every pedophile is still a person. They may be someone’s lover, just as you may be. They may be someone’s parent, just as you may be. They are someone’s child, just as you are.

Can you see yourself in them as well? Can you cultivate compassion for our fallen brother and sisters, even knowing that they must be stopped – and killed if necessary? Do you grieve for the perpetrators as fiercely as you do for the victims? Can you?

That is the absolute, unyielding cost of Unity. And it is not something we can demand of others – it is something we must first cultivate in ourselves. Only then can we go out into the world and inspire others to follow that path, rather than demanding or terrifying them into converting to our beliefs.

We are one people. We are all in the world, and the world is in all of us – the good, and the evil. Can you open your arms, your mind, and your heart wide enough to welcome home those whom are most lost, and steel yourself to challenge them if you must?

To me, that is Unity. That is One World and One People. It is difficult, but it is also worth pursuing.

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