An experienced minister was chastising me for talking about diversity and inclusion. She told me I was encouraging divisiveness and political controversy. She suggested I go back and study the principle of Oneness. She said, “Oneness means we are all the same. So talking about diversity means you believe in duality.“
I try not to argue with people who believe this. I believe they are as entitled to their interpretation as I am entitled to mine. Instead of making them wrong I just focus on finding my balance. It kinda feels like finding my balance when I’m doing a handstand: nothing has really changed but I’m seeing everything from a different perspective (upside down). So I don’t try to convert them to my way of thinking but I almost always will quietly express that I have a different understanding of both oneness and duality.
From my perspective,
- “Oneness” means (a) that all creation together makes up the whole of God and (b) that each creation is unique and inseparable from God. To me that means that every single form created is unique by design and it is all these unique beings that represent – individually and collectively – God.
- “Duality” implies that I believe in God and something other than God. To say that diversity is something other than God is unthinkable to me! Diversity is, in my mind, a very consistent expression of the unlimited creativity of God.
When we talk about flowers we say, all flowers are beautiful and unique. We don’t deny the rose is different from the orchid, the daisy or the dandelion. Yes they are all flowers and yet they each have different appearances, needs and experiences of life. We say there is grand diversity within the category of life we call plants. And while we may not have extensive experience with all types of plants we don’t ban those we are unfamiliar with from full and healthy lives (and we don’t require them to mutate into a plant we are familiar).
When we talk about our pets we don’t deny the cat is different from the dog, the canary or the hamster. They are all animals, in this case, household pets, yet they each have different appearances, needs and experiences of life. We say there is fabulous diversity within the category of life we call pets; we acknowledge our preferences. But we do not allow cruel treatment or life-threatening conditions for those animals that don’t match our personal preferences.
We have very advanced skills that allow for differentiation in almost every category. We have very sophisticated emotions that celebrate the beauty, complexity and uniqueness of almost every species of life. So I am amazed at how many people want to insist that because we are human we are all the same!
Absolutely, it is true that as humans, there is a DNA pattern that binds us together as one species. But just like every other species there are innumerable ways life is expressed and experienced.
People from different parts of the world, people with different physical characteristics, people who speak different languages and develop different living techniques based on climate, economic conditions, age, education or any other combination of factors are not operating outside of the circle of God. In fact, I believe all these differences are simply God experiencing as many of the Infinite ways life can be expressed as possible
If each one of us has been made in the spiritual image and likeness of our Creator, then how can I pretend to ignore or discount the ways you are different from me? That feels as if I am ignoring, or discounting God.
If each one of us has been made to glorify the magnificence of our Creator, then how can I believe that my way is the best way, or only way, to experience life? If I interact with other people as if they are all like me … or as if we are all the same … how will I ever recognize the full power and presence of the Divine?
Karen Drucker’s song, “The Face of God” reminds me that:
You are the face of God.
I hold you in my heart.
You are a part of me.
You are the face of God.
We are all the face of God. And every other original form created is also the face of God. But I would never expect myself to look, act, think or behave like a cactus, a horse, a sunrise, an owl, a blade of grass or an oak tree just because they are all also faces of God. So why would I be willing to ignore the differences in people if I truly believed these differences were simply God being creative and showing me another way Spirit can express?
The greeting “Namaste” roughly translates into “I bow to the Divine within you.” Often the meaning is described as, “The God in me sees the God in you,” or “The Christ Consciousness in me sees the Christ Consciousness in you.” Every time I say, “Namaste” to another person I am acknowledging that we are two separate and unique expressions of the One. I am communicating that I love the way God shows up as you … and I know we have a common source even though we are two unique beings.
Yes, we have a common source. Yes, we are each inseparable from that Source. And because we are each unique incarnations of that Source we are connected to one another even though we are not identical in our physical, mental or emotional expressions
I believe when I notice, appreciate and celebrate the many different ways people experience and express life I am noticing, appreciating and celebrating the many ways God is showing up in the world today. For me: oneness is not sameness.