The word ‘unity’ can make some people cringe. It can make it possible to overlook the experiences of those who have been systematically oppressed, ignored, and forgotten, for one. In this sense the term is usually a cover for “uniformity,” perpetuating the unfortunate notion that we have to be the same to not be in conflict. But that’s the kind of so-called unity perpetuated by the violent worldview. Can nonviolence offer us something different?
Well, it’s more urgent than we think!
For democracy to be possible, Gandhi maintained, it has to be built on a foundation of unity, not “in uniformity,” but unity-in-diversity. This revolutionary concept is based in the vision of a human being as body, mind and spirit. On the physical plane, diversity is not only natural, it’s desirable. It’s the expression of the infinite complexity and creativity of the universe. On the level of mind, we strive for mutual understanding, which can only come from the recognition that on the level of spirit, we are not fragmented, not existentially and forever separated from one another–on this level we are one, and in order to realize it, paradoxical as it may sound, diversity must be embraced and honored on the surface — things like physical appearance, wealth, etc., and even our opinions.
Where do you see a tendency in yourself to impose uniformity onto others or your environment? If you could do one thing to incorporate a greater appreciation for the order of unity-in-diversity in your life, what would it be?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org