Implications of Achieving Unity at the Cost of Diversity

The mental consciousness, which insists on “either/or” type solutions for the most part, tries to create an opposition between the task of achieving human unity and the maintenance of variation and diversity among cultures or peoples.  It then weighs the options and, if the need for unity appears to outweigh the need for diversity, it then pushes for any solution that will achieve that unity, regardless of potential unintended consequences or long-term counter-effects.  Human history shows us examples of smaller groups that were suppressed or annihilated in the name of a larger form of unity.  The current trend gives us little hope that a more mature, multi-sided approach will develop as the world struggles to address global crises that demand some form of unity.  An outward unity in any case will likely develop, and this will take the shape of an administrative and controlling authority dealing with issues such as environmental and climate change, mass migrations, global pandemics, and the global inter-related economic activities of all the nations.  The challenge lies in whether this approach attempts to create uniformity on the global level or whether it can develop a method to maintain diversity while promoting unified action and relations.  Dystopian thinkers and writers, such as Orwell or Huxley have claimed that uniformity and suppression of variation, in one way or another, is the direction that the world seems to be taking, and they warn about the consequences.  The pictures they paint of the future world-order are not comforting.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “There will be a sole unity, the world-nation; all outer source of diversity will disappear.  Therefore the inner source has to be modified indeed, subordinated in some way, but preserved and encouraged to survive.  It may be that this will not happen; the unitarian idea may forcefully prevail and turn the existing nations into mere geographical provinces or administrative departments of a single well-mechanised State.  But in that case the outraged need of life will have its revenge, either by a stagnation, a collapse and a detrition fruitful of new separations or by some principle of revolt from within.  A gospel of Anarchism might enforce itself, for example, and break down the world-order for a new creation.  The question is whether there is not somewhere a principle of unity in diversity by which this method of action and reaction, creation and destruction, realisation and relapse cannot be, if not altogether avoided, yet mitigated in its action and led to a more serene and harmonious working.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 28, Diversity in Oneness, pp. 251-252

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