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“There can be no unity, no delight of love, no harmony, no good in being, while there is but one. Two at least are needed for oneness” (George MacDonald).
OUR CONCEPT OF UNITY IS OFTEN QUITE SUPERFICIAL. We tend to equate unity with identity or sameness. We envision “oneness” as an environment where everybody walks, talks, and even thinks alike. But real unity, that is, unity between or among persons, is never that bland. Whatever else they might be able to do, clones can’t enjoy unity. “Two at least are needed for oneness,” as George MacDonald said.
The first thing we need to see about unity is the power for good that comes from being unified. It’s nothing short of astonishing to behold the potency of ordinary people who stand together. As Homer remarked in the Iliad, “Not vain the weakest, if their force unite.”
But the second thing we need to see is the seriousness of the consequences of disunity. When Ben Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, reminded his fellow signers, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” he spoke a more universal truth than he may have realized. There are, in fact, many ways to “hang separately” in the world, and many of them are the sad result of people not having the sense to “hang together.”
But unity, whether in families, neighborhoods, or nations at large, is not the instantaneous product of a moment of enlightenment; it’s a goal we gradually, and sometimes painfully, work our way toward. It’s the fruit of honest commitment and long-term investment.
In any relationship where we don’t presently have the unity we’d like to enjoy, the answer is not merely to try harder (although most of the time we certainly need to do that). We must change not only the quantity of our effort but the quality of our thinking. Our perspective must be altered, preferably by being elevated, so we can see how things look “from the balcony.” And before we blame all of the alienation on the other people in the relationship, let’s stop to remember that, as somebody said, “it takes two to tangle.” It’s not just the other people’s thinking that needs adjusting. Our own does too.
“We can find common ground only by moving to higher ground” (Jim Wallis).