What Unites Us
Rector Chris Girata's latest article in the Katy Trail Weekly
This week, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many people have taken advantage of early voting. I say this as someone who is very grateful for the ability to cast a vote at all. On Oct. 22 alone, Dallas County saw a 325 percent increase in early voting. This is an amazingly hopeful sign that more people will engage in our election process because engagement matters.
Having a say in who represents us is the best way to be governed, even when that system falls short of being perfect — which it certainly does, so including as many people as possible in that process is important. Seeing such large numbers quickly made me feel hopeful. I have always been accused of being a frustratingly eternal optimist. And yet, as I watched the long lines wrap down the street in front of my local polling location, I quickly remembered that the increased engagement is likely because of our increased polarization.
There is no question that America is as polarized as it has been in a generation. Much of that polarization is expressed politically. Unfortunately, it seems as though many people I know vote against someone, rather than for someone. That means that many voters are defining themselves by what they don’t believe, rather than what they do. This is a recipe for pain and frustration, but most concerning, this is what will further cause disunity. And what we need now, more than anytime in my memory, is unity.
Countless wisdom sayings point to the importance of unity. Perhaps one of the most common is, “United we stand, divided we fall.” The idea of unity is nothing new. In fact, most people would agree that unification creates strength and that people are more unified than ever to achieve common goals. But here’s the problem: true unity means all.
When I hear talk of unity today, unity is always defined as one group unified against another. How easily we forget our similarities. There is so much more that unites us than separates us. If we can begin to see that the strength of unity we seek includes everyone, think how much stronger our human family could be.
Allow me to make one thing clear: unity does not mean agreement. As I consider the current partisan landscape of our world, it would be easy to understand my sentiment as an appeal for us all to agree. On the contrary. Our diversity of opinions and perspectives contributes to a more robust culture we can all share.
Instead, I see unity as alignment. We align when we share a common goal. As Americans, I hope our common goal is the health and prosperity of everyone in this country. But as humans, we are called to align toward something even bigger. In every major wisdom tradition, there is a common call to peace and love. Our common humanity calls out to us to be unified toward a peace that passes all understanding, to a way of living that is fundamentally rooted in love and respect for one another.
The hope of unity is not lost even when the seeds of disunity are sowed. We have not lost the anchor of goodness, respect and equality that grounds the ideals of our nation even when they are hidden. But that unity will not guide our future without each one of us having the courage to be a light in the darkness. Each of us has a light inside us that guides us toward the sacred, Godly peace we all seek. I hope that in our own, unique way, we will find a way to shine our light today and every day. And soon and very soon, we will reach that holy place of unity.
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