This week celebrates the remarkable life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Decades ago, the visionary reverend shared his hope and values with a tragically fractured culture. He stood out among civil rights leaders as an icon of peace who unified the diverse crowds who supported him. Reverend King also represented the profound bonds of spiritual truth, which unify all of us under one Lord. Though I respect the many who forged paths through oppression and discrimination to benefit the world, Dr. King stands among the leaders I have admired most.
As a teen, I enjoyed a richly diverse educational environment. We learned about, from, and among brilliant minds and souls of various races. Students grew as a close-knit family. I believed Dr. King’s dream would become a reality before I reached adulthood. Until I reached college and discovered how unique my experience had actually been.
Our culture now stands in a tragic state of disunity. The contention and division isn’t limited to racial issues. Religion, politics, and gender divide us, as well. Instead of growing more into one family as I had dreamed, we seem more disconnected than ever. And the breakage is toxic to both the culture and our individual wellbeing.
Reaching full potential as a world, nation, and as individuals, depends upon unity in diversity. You might feel impotent to change the division in the world, but your life hinges upon changing it in your world. No being can actualize their maximum possible success by limiting their experience and understanding.
One doesn’t improve through constraining her outlook to her own. We grow as individuals by stretching our hearts and souls to include new perspectives and increase compassion. Our minds hunger to learn from others. The soul, as an instrument of God, is designed to work in harmony with different instruments in the divine orchestra.
And harmony is the key to actualizing potential. This seems an impossible task in our world, since Congress cannot even seem to accomplish such a thing. In fact, unity in diversity is only possible by employing a powerful medium given only by God Himself–unconditional love.
Unconditional love, born of Christ’s grace, allows us to disagree with someone’s opinion while loving their heart and soul fully. We can differ in perspective while embracing one another as siblings of equal value under one Father. We don’t have to condone behavior or perspective, but we can meet our neighbors in empathy and acceptance.
Perhaps we can all agree that divine compassion among diverse people is desperately needed in today’s world. Yet, how can we change the heated and tragic division of our culture? Here are a few steps each of us can take to transform our own lives, and thereby make ripples of change to impact the world beyond us:
- Form genuine relationships with people different from you.
- Read widely, from diverse perspectives.
- Reach out to new social media circles and present a willingness to listen.
- Learn about other cultures, religious perspectives, etc. Gain some understanding about cultural norms (hug vs personal space, LOL).
- Volunteer alongside people who differ from you.
- Share your positive experiences with others.
Do you have other ways to expand your diverse experience? Share your ideas with us. I look forward to hearing your comments.