I am not convinced that “unity” is a matter of setting our differences aside

I am not convinced that “unity” is a matter of setting our differences aside. I think unity is a matter of bringing the raw ingredients of our differences to the kitchen table. And at that kitchen table, we will look at all of our ingredients, and we will realize, it’s actually pretty difficult, messy, time-consuming, and energy-consuming trying to make all of this work together.

I think “unity” is:

“on this day, we’re not going to give up and make just something easier. The water is already boiling on the stove. The cooking utensils are ready to go. The fire is piping hot. It’s time to get to work.”

We can’t just say “I love your ingredients no matter what they are.”

That’s a good start, and at the same time, in order for everyone to be able to eat, we have to do more than that. We have to figure out how these ingredients are actually going to work here, in this kitchen, until everyone is fed. We have to realize that some ingredients may seem more powerful just because the people who brought them to the table have more power. Some ingredients might be overlooked because the people who carried them have been overlooked themselves. Some will share their recipes reluctantly and conditionally, and others will share them generously and openly. And together, we will find that ‘unity’ is far more complicated than creating a melting pot.

In the words of the great poet Gwendolyn Brooks (words that she wrote for musician and activist Paul Robeson), “We are each other’s business, we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

And wow, is that a complex concept to hold. And as I look at all of our ingredients, I think it’s worth it.

There are no “two sides of the aisle”
in the kitchen.
There is a table.
There are chairs.
There are human beings bound together
by a need for nourishment,
and in order for that to happen,
we have to bring our ingredients together
and work to create a feast
so that everyone
can be fed.

II

For unity to happen,
we have to acknowledge the ingredients
that have worked
and the ones that have been missing.
In the kitchen,
there are no “two sides of the aisle
There is a pot in front of us.
And it’s time to cook.
Some of what we will try will work.
Some of what we will try will not.
But the water is already boiling on the stove,
and we need to eat
Let’s get to work.

II

Let us pray for unity,
while also praying,

“May unity
be at work in me
to the point that
my inner walls crumble
so my heart sees
with clarity
what is mine to do.”

– Morgan Harper Nichols

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