Last month, I attended the final CONSPIRE conference offered online by the Center for Action and Contemplation. I’ve shared musings here from other CAC conferences I’ve attended in the past. I want to do so again, especially where I recognize how ideas I heard from others are converging with my own thoughts. In this first of a two-part miniseries, I want to reflect on the concept of unity in diversity.
Yes, I’ve reflected on this concept before, but that feels like years ago…before the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests in response to George Floyd’s death. I feel much has changed in the past few years—although not nearly enough—and so I decided to begin my ponderings with this idea.
The phrase which forms the title of this post—Diversity+Love=Unity—was something I jotted down in response to Richard Rohr’s explanation of the third of the Seven Themes which undergird his teaching: Frame. Richard believes there is “no truthful distinction between sacred and profane.” I would say there’s no valid distinction between the two, because we make lots of distinctions, but they just don’t—or shouldn’t—hold up under the weight of God’s love. After all, why would God create something God would not love? And how can anything God loves be profane, or unholy?
But back to diversity and unity. As humans, we are both individually, genetically unique and yet also 99.9% the same. That one tenth of one percent is both gift and challenge, depending on how we approach it. If God loves what God has made, how do we dare not do the same? And yet, we dare, every day, across the globe. Why? To some extent, it’s developmental. We learn who “I” am by distinguishing myself from “you.” My hair is darker or curlier than yours; I can see that difference and therefore grasp the concept of difference.
But difference isn’t inherently good or bad; it just is. In fact, I would say that our diversity is a great gift because it makes us complementary to each other. Sewing isn’t one of my skills, but I’m awfully grateful that others have it, so I can wear lovely and comfortable clothing. As we raise children and watch their talents emerge and skills develop, I believe we should celebrate the physical and the cerebral equally. We need people who can imagine, people who can create, and people who will labor. When we embrace what each person has to offer, our unity gains a richness and depth that isn’t possible when we focus solely on difference.
More to come next week…but meanwhile, pay attention this week to the diversity around you and seek to love it, to see the good in it, regardless—just as God does.