Much has been made in recent weeks about unity here in the United States. Joe Biden made it a centerpiece of his inauguration speech. But what does it really mean?
There are many different ways to define unity, but I like Stephen Covey’s the best. He says in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People “Insecure people think that all reality should be amenable to their paradigms. They have a high need to clone others, to mold them over into their own thinking. They don’t realize that the very strength of the relationship is in having another point of view. Sameness is not oneness; uniformity is not unity. Unity, or oneness, is complementariness, not sameness. Sameness is uncreative… and boring. The essence of synergy is to value the differences.”
What does this mean? It means that we all have to be pulling on the same rope, but we won’t all pull on it in the same way. It means that we won’t all agree on what color the rope should be but we know that we need one. It means that we are all looking at the same big picture but recognizing and celebrating the nuances of what makes us all the pieces that make up the puzzle.
It does NOT mean we will agree on everything 100%. If you have 2 or more people in any situation and there are NOT any differences of opinion someone is lying. Even identical twins, who have the most in common of any 2 humans on Earth, are not clones. They are different people with different views and different experiences.
In the realm of politics it means we are Americans first. Of course we will have disagreements on how to govern and what the role of the government should be in areas like education and health care. Those differences should be celebrated, not demonized. However, in order to form a more perfect union we DO all have to work together. We DO all have to have the greater good in mind. We DO all have to acknowledge that compromise and working together is the only way we are ever going to get anything accomplished. Sitting back with our arms crossed refusing to accept any idea out of hand because it comes from “the other side” is childish and self destructive. It certainly isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind.
This doesn’t mean all ideas are created equal. Conspiracy theories and outright lies should not get the same level of consideration as facts. Children sometimes lack the ability to separate fact from fiction- they just haven’t lived long enough yet to have that skill. As adults we are supposed to do better. We are supposed to use our experience and intelligence to understand the difference and understand what is truly just a difference of opinion and what is truly fact vs. fiction.
Is this possible for us? Can we ever, as a nation, get back to where we were not all that long ago when a good idea was a good idea no matter where it came from? I hope so. Because if we can’t we’re no longer working for a more perfect union. And no American should want that.