low angle photo of people's fingers doing star shape

What We Call Unity is Unanimity in Disguise

What does unity mean? The better question is what do we think unity means? Merriam-Webster would define unity as “the quality or state of not being multiple, or oneness.” Unity is a sense of harmony between different people. The definition seems a bit abstract, but once we get into the definition of unanimity, we will start to realize that we are trying to be unanimous and disguising it as unity. Unanimity is an agreement by all people involved or a consensus. Here, we are no longer looking for oneness, but sameness.

How do we make unity concrete? Another word for unity can be tolerance. It is when the differences of people don’t matter. We like to think differences don’t matter, but not only do we discriminate on gender, race, religion, and other characteristics, but we love to discriminate the things we can’t see: thoughts and ideas. In contrast, unanimity comes with the expectation of a singular purpose.

If you want to be a part of this group, you must look, act, and follow the same guidelines as everyone in the group. If you want to join McDonald’s you’ll have to put on this script, learn how the burgers are made, and ask, “Would you like fries with that?” The stakes are higher when you’re not allowed in spaces because you don’t look the part, don’t have enough money, or don’t believe in the group’s practices. You don’t belong until you fit in. This isn’t unity, my friend, this is assimilation. Unity promotes tolerance for those who are different and disagree. Unanimity promotes tolerance with those who agree and conform.

Why do we choose unanimity? The answer to that is quite simple. Unanimity is easier to manage. There isn’t much to do when everyone is the same. You don’t have to worry about someone wearing something offensive if everyone has to wear the same thing. You don’t have to worry about anyone stepping out of line when we’re only talking about an assembly line. Because you wear a shirt with a logo, you’re considered united with everyone else wearing the same shirt. We make policies to ensure sameness and call it equality. All these “efficiencies” only seek to eliminate differences. Harmony can’t exist without chaos. The elimination of opposing ideas doesn’t create harmony. It creates robots.

Unanimity is easy, so by default unity is going to take effort. We are going to fail many times, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the idea of unity. We fall, but we get back up again because the tolerance of our diversity will always be worth it. Instead of trying to make everyone the same, we need to should aim to celebrate our differences as a step to look past them knowing that each individual is a human being. Regardless of how one talks, regardless of how much money someone has, and regardless of how someone functions in the world. This is true unity. You don’t have to agree with any of the words that I’ve written. I love you anyway.