Summer Word Challenge
It seems like summer has just begun and already July is upon us. In the United States, the first weekend of July this year is marked by our independence day. Most people are going to observe it in one of two ways. Getting completely hammered on a beach until fireworks crackle through the sky. Others will be endeavoring to focus on their patriotism by means of honoring veterans and donning red, white and blue.
While I am not here to tell you which is better or worse, I do want to bring something to the table. It is something that I think, this year especially, we all need to do. This is a challenge to live out an idea; an idea that our forefathers fought for and what we tell ourselves we fight for now. No, not freedom. Literally 80% of the planet has freedom. No. I want us to challenge ourselves to live in unity.
Unity – Let’s Live It
There are many things at this very moment that threatens the idea of Unity. Our politicians have polarized the parties to the point that campaigns are nothing more than mudslinging and insults, and on Twitter no less. Democrats and Republicans hate each other purely by the association with the opposite party. But there is something that our presidential candidates have in common. They seek to divide us. And it is working. More than ever, we are all trying to keep the “other” people at bay. Anyone who disagrees with us has no right to stand with us. And it is hard not to laugh when I hear people call us the “United States” because we are not and we are not even trying to be.
And these outrageous statements by our candidates highlight other areas of division in this country and there are many. We are divided by class, race, religion, as well as political views, just to name a few. We fancy ourselves a land of freedom from oppression in any of those areas yet we are even worse off than many other countries. We are divided. One of the most poignant dividers now is religion. With ISIS claiming their heinous violent acts are the will of God and the media and politicians jumping on the fear propaganda bandwagon, it seems like there is no hope that we will ever have a peaceful religious coexistence let alone unity. Ignorance all around has muddied the waters of healthy religious discussion and debate. Muslims in this country are actually afraid of being targeted by neighbors, coworkers and their government-appointed leaders. And everyone else seems to be afraid that the Muslims in their neighborhood are going to snap.
Can We Remember Its Meaning?
So with all of this, and more, weighing down on us, and decades of misrepresentation, oppression and elitism, can we even remember what Unity means? It is such a distant memory and perhaps it needs to begin on a foundation that we all can appreciate.
The reason I write to you about unity on this Independence Day is that I hope that I can urge my fellow American readers to remember that no matter what color, gender, class or religion your neighbor is, they are American. The same soldiers fought for them that fought for you. The American dream is as much theirs as it is yours. I urge you to remember that this country began by uniting as one. We can do that again. We must do that again. And once you are able to relate to the people around you more on that connection than one your differences, I want you to take the next steps:
- I want you to live out the idea of uniting with the citizens of the world.
- Stand with people who seek peace, acceptance and speak love.
- Stand for respecting and learning from differences.
This country often portrays itself as the protector of the underdog and a place where differences are accepted, a place where we can all unite behind freedom. I think it is about time we actually lived that out.
Dreaming Of Unity
I have big dreams about unity. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and see that we have all stopped putting out heads in the sand and have begun to stand for things. I want to see us unite against liars, against people who manipulate the media for their own gain, against people who perpetrate fear to create chaos both in this country and abroad. I wish I could wake up and see us unite as one and take responsibility for our mistakes. I wish we could unite as one and view every single person on the planet as equal to each other.
I know that will not happen overnight. So I ask you to start something this July. I ask you to look at everything you do through the lens of unity. Ask yourself if you are doing things to divide or to unify. It can be as small as speaking out when someone is trying to be divisive or including someone who might be a little different from you. I really believe that anything will help. And if enough people begin to live to unify, then we can create the changes we want to see.
United we stand, Divided we fall. Divided we all fall. So it is time for unity. It is time to stand.