I’m profoundly haunted by the fact that our undoing — the undoing of culture, of society, of civility — is attributable to one very obvious lack: unity.
We know it. We’ve known it for a long time. If you don’t believe that, find the time to watch this. By today’s standards, it’s corny and hokey. It’s also still apt, applicable, and right … dead right.
But as we disintegrate (literally, dis-integrate), we have the luxury of putting our own interests, special interests, above all others — politics, religion, ethnicity, gender, climate. We also have the luxury of identifying ourselves and others as members of groups, rather than the distinct individuals each of us is. As a consequence, we grow farther apart, driven so by the absence of any unifying force, factor, or foundation.
The ideas or causes, let alone the nations, to which we pledge allegiance, get smaller, closer, more personal and parochial by the day. What? You doubt that? Have you visited Facebook lately? How about a college campus? Would you be likely to think more students at Yale are reading George Orwell’s books — or burning them? At the very least, it’s a safe bet most of us are ignoring them.
He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. (1984)
So, what do I find in all that? Hope.
That’s right. Despite all of our inherent, selfish tendencies to splinter, to defeat ourselves, and to think of our own predilections and concerns as singular and singularly important, we remain human at our core. We remain beings who respond to joy, to opportunity, to reflections of greater goods, higher powers, and unifying causes. We remain beings who, even as wayward adolescent boys, ages 14 to 19 — the aptitudinal equivalent of the proverbial herd of cats — can unite in a celebration that includes self, unity, transcendent accomplishment, and (can you imagine?) beauty.
What? You doubt that, too? Then watch this.
If you can experience that video without experiencing goose bumps, teary eyes, and a resurrection of your own hope, you’re a bigger cynic than I am. And in case you’re not entirely sure, that’s not a good thing.
The world is full of good and bad. That’s why God invented memory and choices. Remember the bad. It’ll help you choose the good.
Look up. Look outside of yourself. Reach out. Listen. You’ll find unity. You will.
It’s there whether you choose it or not.
Image by 29450, courtesy of pixabay.com.