Unity Through Diversity

by Ron Potter

Truth, Love, Beauty, Unity.

You’ve heard this several times from me as a saying from Aristotle.  I actually use it for building teams.

  • Truth – be honest with each other and the team
  • Love – Show respect for each and every member of the team.
  • Beauty – Don’t make things complicated, make them simple.  (I’ve talked about the beauty of Einstein’s genius.  It was not his mathematical genius that helped him stand out as a pillar in his field.  It was his ability to simplify things.)
  • Unity – Work as a team.  Build unity.

In one sense we can view these as a progression.  By bringing out the truth, showing respect for individuals, ideas, and opinions, and boiling things down to the simplest of forms: we can then reach unity.  This doesn’t create uniformity; it creates unity through diversity.

Another Ancient Text

Many of us have heard the story about the Tower of Babel.  Most scholars put the writing of this book as much as a thousand years before Aristotle.  Most of us think this story is about the people of earth at that time building a tower so that they could become gods of their universe.  The reason this might have been possible is that the text says they had one language and the same words.  They had uniformity.  Earlier text indicated that the intent was for a diverse language and people.  The children of Noah (after the great flood) spread about the world and created different tribes and languages.  The intent was diversity.

The story of the Tower of Babel was about building a nation with one language.  In the passage from Genesis 11, God once again caused the nation to disperse into different tribes and different languages.  The goal was always diversity!

Uniformity vs Unity

These are close words but they mean different things.

Uniform: The same in all cases and at all times.  Unchanging in form or character.

Unity: The state of being in full agreement: Harmony.

The keyword in uniform is “unchanging.”  Nothing changes.  Beliefs don’t change.  Arguments don’t create change.  Different beliefs and opinions don’t change.  Referring to Aristotle’s statement, there is no need for Love (Respect) because nothing is going to change.  Without respect for other beliefs and opinions, nothing changes.

The keyword in unity is “Harmony.”  Have you ever been part of a choir, quartet, or jazz band/quartet?  I’ve been part of a choir off and on for many years.  I sing bass.  My sound and notes are very different from the altos and other sections of the choir.  But when we join all of our voices together, we create a wonderful and enjoyable harmony.

Have you ever listened to a great jazz quartet?  There is no written music, just great blended sound.  In fact, any instrument may take the lead at any time.  All of the other instruments listen, blend in, and create a great harmony together.  They create unity.

Uniformity or Unity

We’re seeing a great deal of uniformity in our nation at the moment.  Because of the lack of respect, there is no change, there is no listening.  There are only hard stances with an unwillingness to be open (and show respect for) other beliefs and opinions.  There is no ability to build a great nation in unity.

Business Teams have the ability to overcome this uniformity and create unity.  Business teams have the ability to be together because they are smaller and closer—although I worry about virtual teams. Business teams have the ability to share beliefs and opinions and listen to each other to build unity.

Our nation has less of a chance because of the desire to push an agenda to create a uniform belief (at least at a tribe level).

Build Unity

Build unity where you can.  I believe it’s easier at a team level because of the personal connections and a fewer number of members.  But, where ever you can, build unity on a national level.  This means examining your own “unchanging” views and being open to others’ believes and opinions.

Unity can save us from ourselves.

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