“The Earth is but one country and mankind is it’s citizens”
This quote is something that has been ingrained in me since I was little tiny baby. It’s so intrinsically part of the fabric of my ideology , that I take it for granted when it might seem like an impossibility. I grew up believing that peace is not only attainable but it is also inevitable.
However, let’s leave the ” flower power- grab your hands in the field singing songs ” mentality for a bit. Real unity is going to be painful,tough and very complicated. So is it worth it? Yes, because at the rate we are going we will destroy each other, and I know that is something that no one wants.
Because I can only take from my own personal experience and my limited knowledge on the topic I am going to share a rather complex framework I am starting to develop for my own personal quest to achieve coherent ways towards unifying actions to understand how to achieve unity. Unity goes beyond simplistic lovey dovey solutions. This is only my perspective but this what I have come to understand :
Unity means unifying actions in our daily lives, which then leads to trying to unite communities, which will eventually branch out to ways to unify governments, and all branches of knowledge . At the moment, we are fragmented within threads of discord, and this is what is breaking us apart.
So, that’s the BIG picture. But on a much smaller scale you have people living their everyday daily life as good ( or as badly) as they can. So, what does unity mean for us as individuals? Here are things that I have learned along the way :
1. I don’t know the answers to that question
What this means is, I don’t have the complete answer to this. I only have a small little itty bitty comprehension of a much larger scope. This is really, something that might either stump us or break our egos. This is something that, I am sadly only learning now. You know how it is in your early twenties, you have that glitter in your eye and you think that it means you have all the answers. Sadly, no. It means only that you have a desire for an answer. It means that you know the way you live right now requires for us to work together and get an answer. We do not know what true unity looks like, we only know that through developing our qualities and spiritual side as well as action reflection methodologies then perhaps we can go onto the pathway towards unity.
One thing is true though : You have to recognize the essential essence of oneness that we all have. We are all one big body, connected through the universe. That sounds hokey pokey , (I think the hippie is poking out smiling)but essentially and scientifically we are intricately linked. What one person does will affect those around us. We are not individual beings, we are collective ones living in a society which not only harms the human race but also the planet by our thoughtless and selfish actions. Which leads to :
2. True unity means pain and sacrifice
Sure, complacency and altriuism from afar is something we do to calm our privileged guilt but in order to truly become unified it means that we have to give up our own self interests for others…. but also be just to ourselves. It means, having a balance. Coherence.
This is actually much harder for western countries to grasp than some other more community driven countries. In El Salvador, it is very natural to give up your food and comfort for others at the cost of yourself. When you go into the countryside you really cannot go when they are eating because they will literally offer the food they will be eating for a week.
I have been to many places in the world and I probably could have had a much more comfortable life. Does this mean that I am a martyr? No. It means that I sacrificed some things to gain others. I knew, that if Left that neighborhood there would be consequences. All the Manifestations of God such as Jesus Christ, gave up their own comfort to seek the betterment of humanity. Whether or not anyone believes in religion, what they exemplified was the idea of selflessness that is so lacking in our everyday interactions.
Does this mean we go live in a cave or in a monastery? Nope. It means that we find ways in our workplace, in our school, in our daily interactions to try and do things that will not just benefit ourselves but those around us as well…in a significant, long term way. Which leads to :
3) Getting out of our comfort zone
We need to stop limiting ourselves to a known experience. One of the greatest adventures has been to get to know people from all walks of life and cultures and races. Sometimes the experience was uncomfortable. It meant being offered guinea pig in Ecuador, or going through hardship or cultural misunderstandings. When you travel, or even make an effort to know someone different than yourself you can actually begin to understand the concept of unity in diversity. It does not mean that we all think the same but all those vibrant colors in the world makes us see the world in a different and beautiful way.
This means, we cannot automatically assume that how do things, how we have learned how to see the world is what is best and it is our job to impose our views on others. Rather, this diversity is a platform for us to all understand things together.
4) Flexibility and learning mode
To be honest, there have been countless countless countless times that there has been some kind of misunderstanding due to cultural differences. However, if we are willing to leave our egos aside, we can come to realize that differences even small ones can cause the biggest fights. Some of the biggest problems I have encountered were due to differences in perspective.
When we travel, or get to know other cultures we must realize that their perspective might make them see the world differently but it does not mean that we cannot see past that and get to some sort of shared vision. For example, there was someone who really was upset with me in a country in Latin america for many years. I , admittedly, did not even take notice of him. One day he came up to me and told me , extremely hurt , that I had ignored him for all this time. I hadn’t realized it, because all I did when I went into the room for years is to just say a general hello. However, in this particular country it was really bad manners not to say hello to each and every person there… Another example I can think of is in a Moroccan family in Spain, where I would talk to the father of one of my junior youth but he never responded back until he got to know me better. I would find out later it was because it was not viewed well for me to speak to a man without the wife being present.
This means that there might be some customs we might not agree with or understand but that does not mean that we should not try to put ourselves in their shoes and leave our egos behind.
4. Tolerance is not unity
To merely tolerate others is not unity. You tolerate a snake, but do you love the snake? Yeah I said love. We should love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we are going to be everyone’s best friend. I am pretty easygoing in terms of friendship and have friends from all the continents and countries you can think of but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t people who I find hard to be around for a long amount of time. Yet, I know my limitations. I know that, on some level, their actions rub me the wrong way most likely because I see something of myself in them. So, I know when I need to back off. I don’t insist on too much closeness under a pretense of “unity”.
I remember there was man in Madrid who was kind of eccentric and who did not like me for some reason. I am used to being liked, so it was strange for me ( Again this has a lot to do with ego) … Whenever he would see me, he would attack me in some way.
Now, a couple years back this might have killed me and I would have blamed myself. Now, it really doesn’t bother me because if I know that I have not done anything wrong to this person, I will learn to love them from a distance. A couple months passed, and one day we were alone and he told me that he thought I was ignoring him and that I hated him. I realized that we were borth fostering a massive misunderstanding. Which leads to…
5. Communicate Baby
This is a reallly hard one for me. Saying how I feel is a big problem. I tend to keep it inside. But this does us no good. We need to speak the truth, hard cold and sometimes painful truth. It is a vulnerable position, and we might not like what we hear. But we need to truly understand what is the cause of that conflict.
6. The power to forgive and not generalize
I have had my stuff stolen by Romanian Gypsies, I have been stalked and groped by Palestinians, Indians, Nigerians, Salvadorans and Ecuadorians. I have had been victim of bullying and abuse by Salvadorans, Americans, Italians, Spanish, and French people. I have also seen great moments of beauty , of strangers coming up to me and giving me money when I am lost from all cultures imagineable , of people offering up their homes and cars and comfort, of wonderful shining beacons of lights through otherwise darkened streets. What I mean is, I have seen great ugliness and also great amounts of light from people of all races and genders. I have chosen to not stereotype or generalize ( or at least attempt not to) a whole race or culture based on a very limited and misguided experience. I have chosen as well to forgive. And forgiveness can be painful. It might mean that I might never see justice for what has been caused. But it will mean that as I weather the storm, I will be stronger.
A man was waiting for twenty years to avenge his abuser. He plotted it everyday. He stood defiant under the rain planning his revenge in sweet agony. This is all he did, this is all he thought about. When he did finally see the man, he turned to him and gave him a wicked smile. The other man smiled back and said “Hello. My name is Time nice to meet you…and you are?”
Basically, those who have done us wrong, barely give us a second thought. We just aren’t important enough to them. And if we are given a second thought it most likely won’t be on the same perspective. The most grevious of sins comes from those who do not even know the harm we have done. And this also means, do not punish the sin of one and give it to everyone you meet. Which leads to :
We need to stop fragmenting or compartmentalizing our lives
Sure, we might be good people in our downtime, but do we know the same for what we do in the workplace or what our actions are in all of our encounters? What is our family life like? What is it like with our friends and neighbors? Again, we won’t achieve this overnight but we have to try
Not Being afraid of making mistakes
Again, I don’t know the answers. I am going to make mistakes and fall down and do the wrong thing… but that’s not the important thing. The most important thing is that I learn from them and maybe won’t fall on the same crack the next time.
Ok… so what does this means on bigger terms
What this means if we start doing these things , all of us , in one neighborhood, this will effect a bigger sphere, and so forth and so forth and so forth. It’s not going to be overnight. It will take years and it is slow. But it is worth it. Because true change requires permanent erasing of centuries of dichotomies, paradigms and misconstrued notions. Eventually this bleeds out to all our spheres , to the branches of science, to education, to the institutions we are involved in, to women’s rights issues, to all the other inherent parts of our lives. We all have a part to play, and if we try together we can go through a new course of action.
This means, we compile our findings, we reflect on it and then we take action again. Over and over, slowly building a foundation for a better way to lead our lives and with it the world. I believe in this, it might seem idyllic, or naive. Yet it is the only way I can conceivably choose to live my life.