What Unites Us?

In today’s blog title, the question mark is all mine.

Right now, there are calls for unity and for people to put aside their differences to work together for a greater good. The problem is, these calls are ringing out in a very hollow way. They ring out in a hollow way because this call for unity is disregarding accountability and justice for those that broke the law and committed murder, and continue to call for violence and killing.

Even if people renounce violence and hate, even if they express and show genuine remorse and take full responsibility for their guilt, it still won’t be enough. At least not in the present. The only thing that eases pain is time, a lot of time. And even after a lot of time, the pain is always there. Worst of all, the pain comes back up no matter how time has passed, and sometimes it comes back up like the wound was just inflicted yesterday.

Can there be unity without trust?

My answer to that question is this: for me, I can’t be truly close to someone who has hurt me before when I did nothing to deserve that. Because as I think that thought, I hear what my mother said to me: if they’ve done it once, what makes you think they won’t do it again?

For me, the only bridge of unity I can think of is this: to ask those who are truly repentant and remorseful not to hurt anyone else like they did. The damage is done to me and nothing will take it away. But if my pain can save someone else from going through what I have, then I will find peace and healing.

Another thing I think can build a bridge to unity is people letting go of revenge though this would mean people would have to take full responsibility for their wrongdoing, and for causing pain to others by embracing lies and cruelty. It means they would have to accept their loss of power was caused by their own wrongdoing and the pain they caused to others. This would mean taking responsibility for wrongdoing and committing to a life of not doing that again. They would have to realize this commitment is not a loss of pride, but of going onto the right path in life. There is no pride and dignity in causing pain and suffering.

Now I look to history for answers to my question on unity:

After World War Two, the first war crimes trials were convened in Nuremberg, Germany and Tokyo, Japan to bring the perpetrators of the war and mass murder to justice. It was the first time in human history perpetrators of war and genocide were brought to justice and the full extent of their crimes against humanity were shown to the world. This in turn showed the world was done, and that it couldn’t be done again. In the decades since, the people of Germany and Japan have confronted their past and sought to educate the world in order for it not to happen again and so that others wouldn’t to suffer and die like so many did before.

In 1987, US President Ronald Regan stood at the Berlin Wall and said to the Soviet Russian Leader, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. I honestly thought I wouldn’t see that happen until I was the age I’m at now (46) and not the age I was in 1989 (15). I didn’t expect it because I thought the wall was so much higher than it really was even though I knew there were people behind that wall who didn’t want to be there and were just imprisoned by fear and lies.

For there to be true unity, walls built on hatred, fear, pain, and suffering must be torn down. Perpetrators of crimes against others must be held accountable and brought to justice. History must be taught in truth, and the stories have to be passed down from generation to generation. Most of all, we have to let go of the desire for revenge, and learn to trust enough to move forward to make life better for future generations. People will have to learn that every single person on this planet has to find their own place in this world, and that if that journey is not causing harm to others, that they can’t be held back from following their own path and living their own lives truly, freely, and without fear.

Most of all, I believe unity comes from accepting that each person has a right to their thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And that they have the right to deal with them in whatever they choose.

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