Unity. According to the dictionary, it means “accord, concord, harmony, and oneness.” I would define unity as togetherness and, as the dictionary said, harmony. Unity is people getting along, talking things out, helping each other, joining forces, and all working together for a common goal. Unity is people not fighting, not using any violence or derogatory language, forgiving, making sacrifices for each other, being a community, and trying to understand those around them.
Unity is hard. For much of history, all around the world, unity has been impossible, or at least it has not been the reality. War and prejudice have pervaded the world since humanity began. Misunderstandings, conflicts of interest, and the human mentality that creates an “us” and a “them” have all manufactured hatred. In truth, these causes of hatred are the real enemies of humanity and of our fragile structures of so-called unity and peace.
In order to have unity, we must have understanding. Understanding is knowledge of other cultures, empathy with people different from us, and the absence of ignorance and the prejudice it too often spawns. Understanding makes it possible for people to come together without fear or unwillingness. With understanding, unity is possible. Without it, everything falls apart.
Peace and freedom are also necessary. Until everyone is free to make their own decisions, chose their own leaders, and control their own destinies, we cannot unite. While people are still in bondage to corrupt governments, failed economies, and demeaning labor, we cannot have unity. And until we stop killing each other and bombing each other’s houses, cities, and villages, we will not come together.
Peace and freedom are more than just the ability to choose and the lack of fighting. Peace and freedom are the absence of need and want. They are license to worship how you wish and meet with whom you wish; they are access to the truth and the lack of all prejudice and hatred. They are living confidently, without fear of what the future might hold. They are possible and essential to our vision of peace.
Some people claim that we live in a colorblind society. Would that it were true. In reality, it is far from the case in our country. Racial labeling, achievement gaps, and hate crimes still exist. Prejudices, though veiled, buried, and often very well hidden, still lurk beneath the surface, waiting for an excuse to burst to burst into the open. We are far from united, even on the smallest of local levels.
In order to combat these forces that threaten unity, we need to have honest conversation. From our small communities, such as our schools, our churches, and our neighborhoods, all the way up to our global community, we need to talk. There are those who say that talk is cheap, but it is through discussion that we can and must achieve peace and understanding. Unity is impossible when we don’t understand each other, and to understand each other we need to communicate.
But why do we need unity, anyway? What’s the big deal about peace and togetherness? The answer to those questions is both simple and complex, but the short response is only three words long: the world today. As a more thorough reply, I elaborate—our country is involved in a war with sketchy aims and variable deadlines, fighting elusive, mobile foes. Nations worldwide bicker and negotiate and get nowhere on issues that really matter, such as climate change and world hunger, which are problems that we must solve together as a united front. Conflicts across the globe begin due to cultural differences and misunderstandings. People die every day because of our collective failure to unite. We live in a globalized society where countries can find little upon which to agree—this is clearly a reality that cannot last. For a better, happier, and more peaceful tomorrow, it is imperative that we achieve unity.
Is unity possible? Is global peace possible? I would like to answer these questions with a simple, necessary, and unquestionable “yes.” In truth, though, the response is closer to “it depends.” It depends because as long as many people believe and act as though unity and world peace are impossible, we will keep fighting and mud-slinging as we always have. As long as we act as though these ideals are impossible, they will remain out of our grasp.
Unity and world peace are possible, however, once we commit ourselves to them as reasonable and paramount ideals, goals, and necessities. Unity and world peace are what we need to repair our bitterly divided and combative world. They are the only forces strong enough to defeat the problems facing humanity today. They are what we can, must, and will leave as our legacy for our grandchildren. Unity and world peace are the future, because there is no other way for us to continue for long.