REFLECTION: Unity amid plurality PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 March 2015 14:12



This is, of course, a constant quest for us. How do we achieve unity, a desired ideal, amid an obvious plurality we can observe even in each one of us individually, not to mention the ever-widening variety of things among ourselves and between ourselves and the rest of creation?

It’s undeniable that deep with us is a natural longing for unity in whatever level and aspect of our life, whether personal, familial, social, political, or cultural, etc. Without articulating it, we somehow know that unity presumes life and order which we like to enjoy, just as disunity connotes death and disorder which we try to avoid.

The unity we are looking for, of course, is not uniformity and an idle, passive and automatic unity. It’s a dynamic, living unity that has to be worked out, precisely because it is not merely physical unity we are after. It’s a moral unity that involves how we understand and use our freedom, and this can turn in any which way.

Equally undeniable is the plurality that we have to contend with, not only of the different parts we are made of individually, but also of the different views, opinions, tastes and preferences, cultures, lifestyles, etc., that we have to learn to live with among ourselves in the different levels of our collective life.

As we all know, there are now all kinds of understanding and usage of freedom. There’s the freedom of the different ideologies—capitalist, liberal, communist, feminist, gay, and now that of the ISIS, for example.

This is not to mention the traditional kinds of the freedom of the hedonist, of the atheists and the agnostics, the worldlings, etc. All these can create quite a chaos of outlooks in the world that we somehow have to learn now the art of chaos management, if there is such an animal.

Even in our individual selves, we see different parts that can go to the extent of competing and conflicting with each other. Not only do we have to contend with the different parts of our physical organism that can conflict with each other, especially when we are sick, but also with the different statuses of our moral and spiritual life.

St. Paul once expressed this reality vividly: “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Rom 7,19) There is a certain plurality and variety of situations produced by our sins of envy, greed, lust, pride, etc., and in these too, we have to somehow find a way to attain unity.

Whether the plurality is valid and understandable or not, legitimate or not, we need to find unity, or some aspects of it, because without it we would surely plunge into destruction and perdition.

What we have to do is to seek this unity amid the plurality in our lives is to go to the source and author of unity. In other words, the ever-complicating plurality we have is a call for us to go to God, the Creator of the universe.

He is the one that holds everything in unity, from beginning to end. He is the universal lawgiver, who has designed everything—the spiritual and material, the animate and inanimate beings—into one unified universe, governing everything with his providence.

He knows what to do with whatever situation the world may go as played out by the way we use our freedom. His wisdom cannot be outwitted by the smartest and most cunning of human intelligence and freedom.

We have to understand then that for us to have unity amid the plurality in this world, the unity we have to build should first of all and always be a religious unity, before it is a social, political, cultural or historical unity.

Absent that religious essence of unity, we would be reprising the story of the tower of Babel where a godless pursuit of unity and development produced disunity and confusion instead, leading to the unavoidable consequences of conflicts and wars among the people.

This is what we are witnessing these days, and all throughout our human history. A unity not springing from the unity of God and with God is a false and deceptive unity that often attracts all kinds of danger. We need to ground our pursuit for unity amid plurality on our loving and faithful relationship with God.

This was the fervent prayer of Christ himself before his passion and death. “Ut unum sint,” that they may be one “as you, Father, are in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (Jn 17,21)