Unity =/= Uniformity

Black Lives Matter is joining the fight against deportations ...
Image credit: Getty Images (H/T Univision)

Friends, I think we need to talk about “unity”.

There has been a wonderful move away from talking about “uniformity” to instead talking about unity in our diversity. Hopefully we have long abandoned any idea that we need to all look, act, and think like one another in order to work together.

And, of course, from a biblical perspective, unity is both a goal to work towards and a promised gift of the spirit. Being united in spirit and purpose, at our tables and places of worship is good. We know intuitively that harmony comes through unity.

However, we should be aware that calls for “unity” have sometimes been used to silence voices of those on the margins. When those in power use the term in frustration at the challenge of the status quo, the word can become contemptuous. It says, “You’re not like us but you should be, because we are best and right.”

For those of us who are white allies, we have to understand that we may not be trusted in our calls for unity. We may have more reparative work to do. We might need to do more confession and reconciliation work.

It is incumbent upon us to earn trust.

While police-led “unity marches” may have both sincere and beneficial trajectories, we should understand why they might not be accepted among BIPOC, especially if policing practices continue to be excessive.

We have to be careful that our calls for unity are not just an attempt to silence those who dissent. This involves a humble posture of listening, a recognition that all of our answer may not be right, and a deep value of the culture, values, and beliefs of the other.


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