One of the great challenges and ostensible paradoxes is reconciling between the individual and the collective, between personal interests and the common good. Can we find a way to preserve our diversity while being united without either being compromised?
The way to achieve this balance is through humility: When you sublimate yourself to a higher calling, your individuality unites, instead of separates, you with others serving the greater cause. Your powerful commitment permeates your being to the point that it tempers self-interest, not allowing it to rip you apart from others. On the contrary, it helps build a unified community – diverse but united by a cause greater than, and one that transcends, individual interests. Yet, it takes effort on your part as an individual to find this harmony in diversity. Here is why the effort is worth it.
Beauty In Diversity
As pretty as one color – say, blue – may be, it still would not be defined as beautiful. As sweet as one musical note may sound, it cannot be called beautiful. Beauty is always a combination of many colors – as in a painting – whose balance and coordination creates a beautiful mosaic. Many different musical notes, when played just the right way, generate a beautiful symphony.
Take nature. The beauty of nature is in the fact that so many different systems work together with such astonishing synchronicity. Perhaps no better or closer example of this is our own selves. The healthy human body is a miraculous piece of architecture. So many different limbs and organs, numerous diverse systems and faculties. Let alone the multitude of cells, hormones, chemicals, and DNA. And all combined as one fascinating unit, working as one synchronized whole. Something that strikes us (even subjectively) as beautiful is balance and symmetry of several – or very many – different elements, all combined in just the right blend.
Beauty: the harmony within diversity.
Humility in Diversity
We are all one: Together we comprise a single organism whose various cells, limbs, and organs complement and complete one another. A body includes both the sophisticated, refined brain and the “crass” functional foot; but, ultimately, the brain is dependent on the foot just as the foot is dependent on the brain. If the foot is indebted to the brain for its vitality and direction, the brain is dependent on the foot to realize many of its goals.
The humble man looks at the larger picture rather than the particulars, at the unified purpose of life on earth rather than only at his function within this purpose. No matter how lofty his own role may seem in relation to his fellow’s, he is grossly limited without him. The knowledge that his own life’s work is incomplete without his fellow’s contribution arouse feelings of humility and indebtedness toward his fellow: He recognizes that every “limb” of the mutual body is indispensable, every component complements and advances his interest.
In this approach, humility is not equated with a sense of inferiority. Rather, it stems from a feeling of equality and mutual need. In becoming humble, you first realize not to feel superior about your unique qualities and strengths: All the virtues you have been blessed with — whether it is a greater measure of intelligence, refinement, or spiritual sensitivity — are only the tools that have been granted you to fulfill your mission in life. You recognize that your own accomplishments require the collaboration with others. Be humbled by the fact that every single individual on earth has a unique and irreplaceable role to play, and that every one is both needed and needs all the others.
Exercise: Start looking for harmony in diversity. What is your part in it? What beauty are you contributing to the communal symphony? Do something beautiful. Journal about it in your MyMLC journal.