Unity – The Challenge of Our Times

The English word “unity” comes from the Latin Unes ~ literally “one”. In a broad sense this oneness or unity is a primordial cosmic reality, there is nothing we need to do or be in order to “get to” unity. Unity just is. If you zoom out on planet earth, you don’t see any disunity at all, just a blue, green planet that is whole and still beautiful. It isn’t until we zoom in a little we might see the dark gray clouds of polluted cities, the monocultural blights of commercial agriculture, swathes of ecological destruction and even the shattered remains of war,

Why Is the human world so fundamentally antagonistic and disunited? It is a question that philosophers, anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, politicians, religious clerics, writers, artists and everyone in between has been pondering since history began. There are certainly associations of unity that hold strong, all the way from the basic family unit, to the tribe, the cultural group, the nation and beyond. What holds these shared identities together, strong enough to overcome the basic antagonism of what Dr. Tamsin Woolley Barker calls “the ant-like ape” that is the human being?

Ultimately it comes down to one word – belonging. When we feel a true sense of belonging to a family, a tribe, a nation, or any group, then that sense of common unity (community) can flourish. It flourishes as a living culture of connection, each individual part connected to the whole as well as a connection directly to the “ground that holds the whole”. This connection to the “ground that holds the whole” can be to a physical piece of earth (land) which is common in indigenous cultures or it can be an ideology / idea such as nationhood or shared religious convictions. Such associations can be subtle yet extremely powerful and exert great forces, positive and negative, on the psyche of the individual. When we see the essentially decent concept of patriotism (love of one’s country) descend into a fervent “nationalism” there are often undesirable consequences leading to a hatred of “the other.” When base nationalism is wedded to religious fundamentalism we get an unholy concoction of theologically justified bigotry and self-righteous contempt for “others”. These red-ragged forces can play havoc with human brain chemistry and are used all over the world by self-serving politicians who have learned how to fan the flames of these neurochemical lower-angels to garner fealty and adoration.

It’s all a pretty big mess, and from our perspective here on the ground we see it all around our planet. So, what’s the case for unity? How on earth are we ever going to achieve a more united, harmonious, conscious world? Can you tell me how to get, how to get to UNITY EARTH??

Well, the good news is that “truth” is on our side. Literary, truth is unity, unity is truth. So, that’s a good start. What we need to get better at is building a sense of belonging for the entire human family, connected to all the Earth, even to the Cosmos as the “ground that holds the whole”. We need to advance or accentuate bigger philosophies, more beautiful theologies, more potent economies, ideas, ideals and systems that can hold the whole world together, united. We have a wealth of cultural collateral in this regard, from Indigenous wisdom, many diverse spiritual traditions, cultural concepts (i.e Ubuntu), and scientific confirmations of our interconnectedness (eg Bohm, Holomovement). So much is pulling us in the direction of unity, and yet we need to overcome the basic psychological instinct that finds and defines identity in the othering and enmity-making process, pitting us against each other.

As John Cobb said recently at the Awakening to Humanity’s Sacred Mission Symposium, quoting an old-time Rabbi, we need to learn to love our enemies. And that, like everything starts at home. Loving our enemies at home and abroad will be the only way that we can achieve a greater global unity and move in an evolutionary direction that is true, beautiful and good.

Who do I need to forgive? Who do I need to be the first to reach out to seeking greater understanding? Global unity, like everything, starts within. It starts with us.

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