Certainly our differences often bring deep division. And we must find a common ground beyond our own self-interest in order to foster healthy and mutual relationships. But it’s still through our differences that we unite.
To unite is to bring together, which is not synonymous with making the same. There’s nothing to bring together when everyone thinks, acts, and feels the same way.
While unified under a common vision, distinctions remain and must be honored to maintain the richness of our union.
For instance, the University is made up of several different schools united by a higher purpose and identity.
And the strength of the University is that it provides an honored place for both the arts and the sciences, for example. It would cease to be a true University if each school was expected to teach the exact same curriculum – making no distinction between the school of medicine and the school of music.
The same is true of the United States of America. Each State retains its uniqueness while remaining unified in the core values and principles of being an American.
And this plays out in our personal relationships as well. While we might enjoy many common interests with our family and friends, we remain distinct individuals from them.
Perhaps the most concrete example is sexual intercourse. The two become one without losing their differences. In fact, it’s their differences that allow them to unite in such passionate intimacy.
In the end, pursuing unity is not about erasing differences.
We transcend our differences by discovering a higher vision that unites us. But while we no longer let our differences divide, we don’t have to lose ourselves in the name of unity either.
The vitality and strength of our relationships is lost when unity becomes conformity.
Pursue unity while honoring differences.