Will Unity Ever Be Treasured?

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By Dr. J. Das

Satguru Kabir emphasized the need for UNITY in our spiritual life: “We are all born of our mother, we have the same blood, and we have the same life force. How then have we created differences?”

People everywhere talk of “UNITY”, “UNITY”, but the word is made to be hollow. Let us try to understand UNITY.

It is first necessary to understand what unity means. A unit refers to one. Unity therefore refers to one or more things being together to form a single unit. We live on the earth which is one globe, and we can thus say it is a “uni-globe”.

This “uni-globe” is part of a “uni-verse” and not a unit in a “multi-verse”. We accept that unity is important and necessary for our wellbeing. That is why we have the word ‘uni-on’ where many people can unite in some cause or undertaking.

We have the word ‘uni-son’ where people or things can operate together in some harmony. We have a ‘uni-versity’ where all types of subjects can be taught in one place to any person. We have ‘uni-formity’ where there is agreement and harmony in appearance or behaviour.

We have ‘uni-tarian’ which refers to a unity rather than a diversity, especially when it applies to one God. We also have such phrases as:  “united we stand; divided we fall”, “unity in diversity”.

We even have the United Nations, which is supposed to oversee the affairs of the world through a unit(y) organization which means that the nations must operate in unity. With such great emphasis and importance attached to unity, both at an individual and at a world level, why isn’t there unity in the world? Why isn’t there unity in our own hearts which can then be reflected as unity in the world?

Let us briefly look at the United Nations. Its purpose is to oversee peace in the world and among nations. It is thus a political organization. But it is also an economic, social, health and cultural organization. It also serves as a world court and is concerned with children’s welfare all over the world. It is, however, singularly devoid of any religious or spiritual commitments.

Although the United Nations is doing excellent work such as in health and children’s welfare, it has failed to bring unity among the nations which are still warring with each other. Since the nations of the world can hardly work in unity, the United Nations has become almost a hollow organization.

Why should this be so?

It is easy to see that every nation and power is chiefly interested in its own welfare. The leaders of these nations are also interested in their own individual welfares, more than the welfares of other people belonging to other nations. In such a climate of self-interest above universal interest, it is not possible for the United Nations to bring unity among the nations of the world. At best, it might help them to tolerate one another or, by sending in peacekeeping forces, it helps to prevent nations from destroying one another. This is certainly not a happy state of affairs for ‘civilized’ human beings.

Let us examine some of the enemies of unity. These are intolerance, apathy, scorn, disgust, greed, disrespect, hate, selfishness, vanity, etc. These are applied out of self-interest and directed towards others with whom we are not in ‘unity’. Let us take intolerance, for example. There is intolerance of other races, cultures and religions. From the racial point of view, colour seems to be the dominant issue. People of different colours become visible minorities which keep them isolated and prevent unity. From the point of view of culture people are different because of their clothing, food, language, customs, arts and other aspects of daily living.

These appear alien to people of another culture. People of one culture do not try to understand or be sympathetic towards people of other cultures.

From the point of view of religion, one religion may brand the other religion as ‘pagan’, ‘kafir’, ‘satanic’, ‘heathen’, ‘doomed’, or ‘barbaric’. In spite of all these ‘descriptive terms’, we all either objectively or intuitively know that all the major religions of the world teach and believe in one God, and that we are all children of God. How then can such emotionally charged descriptive and negative terms be applied to people of other religions?

Just as intolerance is practiced towards others, just so apathy, scorn, disgust, disrespect, hate, etc. also operate. People operate from selfishness and vanity, being convinced of their self-importance. All of these negative characteristics are against the teachings of every religion, the members of which continue to practice them. Yet people like to feel that they are loving, kind, respectful, tolerant and open minded. However, the world is full of enough examples of people behaving in a contrary manner to give credence to the fact that people, basically, are not what they profess to be. This is certainly not a happy state of affairs!

J. Das is a Surrey-based spiritualist and writer. He can be reached at [email protected]