Working with words mindfully is an interesting challenge.
For example, have you ever wondered about the names United States and United Nations? Why did Founders choose to describe their country as United? United on what levels and in what way(s)? By common principles? Common interests, commitments, or vision for the future?
What did charter members of the international organization intend by using the same word, United? Pursuing common goals, pooling resources and/or standing firm against common dangers? Does the word hold the same meaning today as it did earlier? What does it mean now, and to whom? Does United mean the same thing to insider elites as to the rest of us? Why does this matter?
The use of the word United is ironic with overtones of tragedy, given the current fragmented and contentious condition of both entities.
It part, current problems were inherent from inception, a consequence of failing to be philosophically correct in foundations. This single picture shows wherein unity can truly be found, and where not.
Looking for unity in the wrong places was fraught with potentially dangerous consequences which are still bearing poisonous fruit today.
It’s especially important to rethink the meaning of Unity in the context of building intentional communities, for the chain of individuals bound together by common purpose is no stronger than its weakest link. The foundation of viable, sustainable communities begins with the integrity of each participating member.
The following Essay from Conscience provides food for thought along these lines. It offers a holistic perspective on unity, both within and without. This comprehensive view offers a useful understanding for building effective communities, as well as diagnosing past failures experienced as a consequence of limited vision and follow-through.
Essay 60. UNITY
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. — Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The scientist or the artist takes two facts or experiences which we separate; he finds in them a likeness which had not been seen before: and he creates a unity by showing the likeness. . . . All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses. — Jacob Bronowski, quoted by Todd Siler in Think Like a Genius
I have always felt that one of the simplest and most apt metaphors for an organization as complex as the United Nations is the Rorschach inkblot test. What one person sees as the hope of a world free of war, famine, poverty, and disease, another interprets as a global boondoggle comprised of uncaring civil servants threatening the cherished concept of state sovereignty. — James Holtje, Divided It Stands: Can the United Nations Work
The Latin root of “unity” means oneness. Webster’s first definition is the state of being one, or united; oneness, singleness. It means something complete in itself, single, or separate. It can be the quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose; harmony, agreement or concord. In contrast, it can also mean uniformity.
It can refer to an arrangement of parts or material in a work of art or literature that produce a single, harmonious effect. It can refer to constancy, continuity, or fixity of purpose or action.
The difference amongst these definitions reflects a general cultural confusion as to the optimal relationship of the individual to nature, society, and their creative Source. Effective, consistent action depends on an integrated concept of self and a comfortable relationship of each part with the whole. Therefore, thinking carefully about what unity means — as well as what it doesn’t — is a necessary prelude to ultimate success in life.
Accepting the I Ching view that accomplishments begin with the smallest unit, unity is first to be attained within. It’s common to say, “My mind’s not made up” or “Get it together.” The familiar saying, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” could also be phrased, “The left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is doing.”
When Westerns say, “I’m of two minds on this,” it reflects confusion, ambivalence or lack of discipline. However, the martial arts advice to have eight brains and eight hearts refers to the height of attainment. It suggests ability to intentionally shift internal gears to meet any situation. From the totality of unified mind, the ideal I Ching master focuses from above while acting through each of the energy centers according the immediate need at the time.
According to the MPI Standard, the Motive, the WHY of psychologies and meditative practices is the same: to unify fragmented, antagonistic functions of mind, personality and behavior.
The Purpose, the HOW they accomplish this is diverse. Some practices start from the outside with behavior and work inwards. Others start with the mind, ideas and attitudes, and work outwards. Still others work on both simultaneously, which is possible in comm-unities where work and self-awareness training go hand-in-glove.
The Intent, the WHAT, ranges from personal self-mastery to inner peace and/or functional relationships.
As pictured above, in a holistic world view, external diversity complements inner unity. The core of life’s concentric circles, like the hub of a wheel, remains still as the outer rim revolves, constantly changing and in motion. Meridians, like spokes of a wheel, link center to surface, connecting and organizing the Wheel of Life in a dynamic unity.
It hardly matters how the goal of inner unity is attained. Once one is focused and all the facets of inner energy are coordinated by a single-minded purpose, the pieces of life’s mosaic fall into place, forming a coherent picture. Then life becomes a work of art, like a poem or a song.
Albert Einstein — equal parts musician, philosopher, physicist and world citizen — searched lifelong for a Unified Theory. The Book of Change embodies the universal code he sought. We’ve failed to recognize the clues hidden for centuries in a venerable text that have the potential to lead us to solutions desperately needed NOW. Restoring this treasure to the general culture would provide a fully functional paradigm from which positive, life-sustaining results can be generated across-the-board.
Regimentation and conformance are perversions of unity. Nature flourishes in diversity. Like snowflakes, each individual is a unique variation of its kind. Yet, in extreme social contexts, variations are suppressed and punished. While this unnatural state might be appropriate to unnatural situations like war, it’s antithetical to personal well-being.
Technically, because all things are connected, it’s possible to dabble in the dark worlds of demons and departed souls. However, though these realms do exist, it is dangerously unwise to explore them without a specific, positive purpose (“know the enemy”) and a white magician’s guidance.
I have been digesting this article since you posted it. Once again, you have offered a thought provoking and interesting perspective. It is very well written and supported. I enjoy all your writings, but this is one of my favorites. Your insight into the concept of United, Community and Unity is on the mark. Thank you. Tai
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