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Daily News and Prayer is inspired by The Christian Science Monitor, one of the most important (and most underappreciated) newspapers in the world. Posts are usually (but not always) responses to articles in the Monitor about events and trends that call for prayer.

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Unity in a fractured world

Unity has always been difficult to come by in a world where billions of people think for themselves.

Right now President Obama is trying to encourage some sort of unity in Iraq against the Islamic State, or ISIS, a difficult task with the mutual suspicions between Sunnis, whom ISIS presumes to speak for (although many Sunnis reject ISIS’s barbaric interpretation of Islam), and Shiites, which dominate the Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, the G7 nations debate how to deal as one with Russia’s attempts to dismember Ukraine, the US government wrestles with how to treat the disputed city of Jerusalem in its passports, the EU argues over how to handle Greek debt, and people and governments everywhere struggle with how to reach agreement on coping with a changing climate.

Unity per se is not an automatic good, of course. A violent mob is unified. But starting from the assumption that some kind of unity is needed to deal with the fracturing influences of narrow interests, how can we find agreement in any situation where personal or national interests are involved?   

Back in 1948 the United Nations came up with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a direct outcome of the horrendous experience of World War II. It was a noble gesture, and many governments joined in, but some Islamic countries refused to sign because of a perceived conflict with Sharia law, and the declaration has probably been used more as a means to accuse governments of hypocrisy than as inspiration for betterment of the human condition.

It’s time to go beyond human rights as a basis for unity.

In a posthumous compilation of writings called Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God, the philosopher Will Durant said, “In the end we must steel ourselves against utopias and be content, as Aristotle recommended, with a slightly better state. We must not expect the world to improve much faster than ourselves.”

Ultimately, the search for unity anywhere goes back to the individuals involved and how dedicated they are, not to finding compromise between interests, but to rising above limited interests altogether. The founder of The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, thought people should ask themselves, “Am I living the life that approaches the supreme good? Am I demonstrating the healing power of Truth and Love?” The aim was to learn what “Life is God” means.

A common understanding of God won’t happen overnight, but a generous, compassionate and humble one, even if not voiced, is a powerful unifier. And it’s ultimately the only basis on which we can achieve lasting human unity, whether individual, international or global.

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