The Haftarah today, the reading from Ezekiel, provided some food for thought. Early on, when Ezekiel asks for unity in the bringing together of the different staves, or even trees of the tribes, he wrote:
37:17 Bring them close to each other, so that they will become one staff, and they will be one in your hand.
The word “one” for “one in your hand” here is plural, which seemed odd, since the intent of the prophet was to create a unity out of many.
This gets more interesting when compared to the way Ezekiel reports God talking about this unity a few verses later:
37:19 (excerpts) “Thus said God, here I take the staff of Joseph…and of the tribes of Israel, his companions, and place them upon the staff of Judah, and make them into one staff, they will be one in my hand.”
Here, in God’s voice, the “one in my hand” is singular.
This offers us a beautiful teaching on the idea of pluralism and unity. From our perspective, as humans who are in the middle of trying to come together around difficult issues, any consensus, any unity, will be a coming together of many ideas, a compromise of sorts. Often this will feel incredibly frustrating as the give and take to create a common ground among many differing viewpoints can be totally exhausting. And yet, there is a greater purpose afoot.
From the top down perspective, a “God’s eye view” as it were, our unity really means one-ness. We can easily get lost in the notion that common ground still leaves us a good distance from each other - we may be stuck in our singular perspective at that point - we are merely a “one” among many “ones”. And still, when we take a step back, or take a deep breath and raise ourselves above the immediate give and take, we can see the unity of the community that has come together around a common cause.