unity in diversity – diametrically opposed contructs…

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  1. The state or property of being one; oneness, as opposed to multiplicity; individuality, as opposed to plurality.
  2. Organic totality; that interconnection of parts which constitutes a complex whole; a systematic whole as distinguished from its constituent parts: as, the unity of consciousness; the unity of an artistic creation…
  3. Identity; self-sameness; uniformity.
  4. The state of being united or combined in one; especially, union as connected parts of a complex whole: as, the national unity of the separate states.
  5. Harmony or accord in sentiments, affection, action, etc.; concord.
  6. Sameness of character or effect; agreement; coincidence.

from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022


  1. The fact of difference between two or more things or kinds; essential difference; variety; separateness: as, the diversity in unity of the true church; the diversity of objects in a landscape.
  2. That in which two or more things differ; a difference; a distinction: as, diversities of opinion.
  3. Variegation; diversification.
  4. Synonyms Dissimilarity, etc. See difference.

from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022

What is the intent of the term “unity in diversity”?

We hear the phrase quite a bit in our world today. It is proported to have come from a man named, “Jawaharlal Nehru” in his book ‘Discovery of India’. It was used to who how a culture with tremendous differences in beliefs, castes, creeds, religions all considered themselves part of the same country, or society.

The intent of this statement within the western cultures has been adopted to embrace the idea that our differences are what unite us.

Is that actually true? Can those who hold differences in religions, philosophical, moral, or any other deeply held beliefs actually unite us?

Historical examples…

If we were to take what is going on in the world today, we will see that, by human nature, this is not the case. If it were, there would be no wars. There would be not killings of those who hold fast to ideas that are divergent from the governing or religious bodies which rule the hearts and minds of societies.

In India, Hindus persecute Christians and those who do not follow their beliefs. Their caste system, while undergoing changes, do not have tolerance for those who are on differing levels of that system. The lower caste are shunned by the upper caste, and, in the old system, were unable to change castes. What you caste you were born in determined your lot in life. Period.

We hear of various sects of Muslims, enflamed against other sects, killing those who are not in the same mindset.

Individual Catholics and their kings enflamed with hatred of those who left the Church justified the torture and killing of Protestants. The same with the individual Protestants and their kings doing the same to Catholics.

Jews, Christians, and others deemed unacceptable to society were hated by those who stirred the pot, pitting the minds of the populace against them. The “unacceptable” were ratted out, captured, tortured, murdered.

And here is our own nation today, simply those who wear masks or follow a particular political figure look at each other through an eye of discrimination.

For as long as humans have walked the earth,None of this divisiveness has stopped for as long as man has existed on this planet. While not all discriminations take the form of murder, all take the form of prejudice against a specific group of people that society does not agree with.

Does the statement actually reflect the intent?

What is the actual intent of the phrase, “unity in diversity”? The intention has been stated that it means to “tolerate” those who are different from you. Most people would read this as meaning that our differences are important and can make the whole human race unified through our uniquenesses.

The key to this working is the term “tolerance”. It is used in nearly every explanation on the internet to justify this statement.

What does “tolerance” really look like?


  1. The state or character of being tolerant.
  2. A disposition to be patient and indulgent toward those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry or severity in judging of the opinions or conduct of others.

from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022

Basically it states that we must be patient and accept others of differing viewpoints from our own without judgement. We are supposed to be “tolerant”.

Is that really the case?

Here are some examples to see what this looks like in reality:

Anyone who is follows Donald Trump or Joe Biden are divergent in their viewpoints. The same goes for Christians and Athiests. Ditto with those who agree with medical science as taught today and those who don’t.

In our country, those with such differing points of view have become vehement in their positions. There are no allowances for the acceptance of another ideology.

Be honest with yourself on this one. Does tolerance really exists in our society today?

Loving your neighbor is not just loving those who agree with you or look like you or move in the same way that you do. It’s loving those who don’t.”

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic, NBA Defense

Importance of etymology


  1. noun That part of philology which treats of the history of words in respect both to form and to meanings, tracing them back toward their origin, and setting forth and explaining the changes they have undergone.
  2. noun Specifically The particular history of a word, including an account of its various forms and senses.

from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022

If we were to take a look at what the words “unity” and “diversity” actually mean, we could see whether or not those two words belong together to reflect what most people take as the intention of the phrase.

They are not part of the same construct…


“From Latin construo (“I heap together, build, make, construct, connect grammatically”), from com- (“together”) + struo (“I heap up, pile”).” from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The words do not connect together cohesively. They mean completely different things.

What would be a more meaningful phrase?

We already have one. It is on our United States coins.

“E Pluribus Unum”

“One from many; one (composed) of many: the motto of the United States of America, as being one nation formed of many independent States.” from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022

In the Catholic Church, the motto is “Catholic”. The term “Catholic” means “universal”. And “universal” translates to:

  1. Pertaining to the universe in its entirety, or to the human race collectively.

from The Century Dictionary, online, March 6, 2022

The idea should be more that our diverseness is that all are part of the same family without exception.

Perhaps a better phrase that would encompass that bumper sticker would be something like this:

Diversity in Unity.

Unity cannot exist if there is division. However, diversity united for a single cause would become unity.

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