Archives for posts with tag: unity

Daisy and I walk down the road together. There aren’t any sidewalks here, but people drive slowly, knowing there are always children playing in or near the street.

“Where are you from?” Daisy asks.

“You mean where was I born?”

“Yes.”

It’s a logical question, in a neighborhood like Vickery Meadow. Many of the residents are refugees and immigrants from all over the world. There are 28 languages spoken in just one square mile. It’s an amazing little microcosm of the world.

“I was born in America. My father and his parents were born in Canada, and their parents were born in Romania. Where are you from?”

“Africa.”

“How wonderful. What country in Africa?”

“I don’t remember.”

We walk a bit further. It’s 95 degrees outside, and both of us are sweating.

Daisy asks, “Do you have a religion?”

“Yes, I’m a Baha’i.”

“Does that mean you pray to many Gods?”

“No, it means I believe people of all different religions pray to the same God.”

Her brother jumps in from behind us: “Do you believe in Muhammad?”

“I believe in Moses, and Jesus, and Muhammad, and also Baha’u’llah. That’s what makes me a Baha’i. I believe that people who pray different ways can still love one another. Like my family. My mother is Christian, and my father is Jewish, and I’m a Baha’i. We’re different religions, but they are still my family. Just like you and me. We’re different religions, but we’re part of the human family, so we still need to love each other and take care of each other.”

Daisy again: “Is everybody here a Ba-who?”

I glance back at the pack of boys and girls following at some distance behind. “Nope, just me and Nabil. There are lots of different religions here. Isn’t that nice?”

We keep walking, past neighbors speaking Spanish, Nepali, French. Children chase each other and play basketball. Babies are fed, laundry is hung, the sun beats down. Daisy and I keep moving forward in the heat and the light. What else is there to do?

letter c

Coherence literally means the quality of sticking together. When someone’s speech is incoherent, the words don’t fit with one another in any sensible way. In a coherent plan, all the parts fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

Nothing can be coherent in isolation. There’s nothing to stick to.

A junior youth group on its own is nice. It can have tangential effects on the rest of the neighborhood. It’s a good start. But just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also take a village to raise, well, a village. And if the junior youth group never talks to the Block Watch, which never talks to the local business owners, who never talk to the neighborhood children that ride their bikes up and down the street … nice is all that’s likely to be accomplished by any of their actions.

At the same time, coherence doesn’t mean diffusing your focus so much that you help no one. Start with small actions, but avoid small thinking. Because the ultimate goal isn’t “nice,” it’s change. And for that to happen, we all have to find new ways to stick together.

photo credit: chrisinplymouth via photopin cc

Opting out is how I’ve always dealt with stress.

Worried that bully will be valedictorian? Don’t bother doing your homework. Never going to measure up to your family’s musical talent? Do something else professionally. Got frizzy hair and big teeth and weird chronic rashes all over your legs? Wear baggy jeans and shapeless t-shirts. Throw a hissy fit anytime somebody wants to take you shopping for clothes.

This tactic of pre-emptive sour grapes actually does work in a world of competition. There’s something coldly satisfying about showing a person who’s determined to beat you that their efforts are so low on your radar that you couldn’t even be bothered to try. But what happens in the world of cooperation?

In a cooperative setting, opting out means you fail. It means the people who were trying to help you fail. It means the cause you believed in together fails. And it doesn’t make you look too cool for school anymore.

It makes you look like a jerk.

Developing a culture of cooperation isn’t just about learning to work in a group of equals. Sometimes you’re outnumbered and outclassed, and you need to know how to move forward without shutting down.

Figuring out how to makeĀ that work will help a lot on the road to true community. Because some of the coolest, smartest, most talented people in the world are working on this. They have bigger audiences and better skills than you. Are you going to opt out and pretend you don’t care about the world around you?

I hope not.

The rest of us who stink at this need you with us.

The grapes are tiny and misshapen, but so sweet.