I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but particularly over the last decade or so things seem to be developing into extremes in polarity. The middle ground seems to be disappearing, and has very few voices behind it (at least in the media we typically use). This attitude of polarity builds walls and deep trenches around “us” and pushes us further away from the dangerous “those” over there. These thoughts and attitudes lead us deeper into division, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and so many other traps of evil that we claim to want to end.
So why don’t we? Fear.
This may seem depressing, but my point with this is to not allow ourselves to become divisive. Peace, if that is truly our goal, is achieved not in finally pushing out the evil “those” and triumphing into a perfect, sinless, uniformed world. Peace is achieved through unity. We must know where we stand–we must know our place in the world. But, when we begin to draw our boxes and dig our moats around our version of truth, we push the other away and they then become “wrong.” The world begins to look like us–our skin color, our gender, our rules, our politics and religious beliefs. When there is a large group of people living under and promoting their respective version of this divisiveness, our world plunges into the polarity we are experiencing today.
Unity, on the other hand, says that what I believe, how I choose to conduct myself according to my values, and the truth that vibrates within my soul is valid and true. The difference here? A person seeking unity and peace accepts their truth without forcing the other out. There is no “us” and “those” in a unitive mentality–there is only an ever evolving “we.” There are no walls here, no lines dug into the sand, no moats. Here we acknowledge the things that make us uncomfortable–the things we don’t understand–and we seek to find peace in that, knowing that there is a greater love at work. Unity says “you think differently from me, you look differently, you believe things that I don’t believe, but we are both human.”
Even as a priest in Interfaith Ministry, I struggle with this. I’m human. I sometimes can’t see beyond my own Christian tradition, but that doesn’t mean that my tradition is the only version of truth acceptable. When my beliefs and values are called into question or confronted, I feel threatened too–it’s basic psychology. But, the path to peace, to unity, is not easy. We have to learn to overcome ourselves, to take down our walls, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge the other. We must be able to see the common thread that connects us with the rest of humanity. We must be able to participate in this vast world of differences and abide in love. This love, this common thread, this underlying creative energy–which I refer to as God–is the unity that we all seek. In fact, the Christian and Hindu belief in a trinitarian monotheism reveals God as community in unity–many, yet one. When we can find ourselves absorbed in that–by whatever name you call it–we will find ourselves at the deepest point of our souls, and deep within the heart of the other simultaneously. When we can begin this work of unity, divisiveness will start to wither, and peace will begin to dawn in our world.
May it be so. Amen.