I've heard this phrase twice this week from two different people: differences unite. Hmmm... sounds rather pollyanna-ish, especially after enduring a couple months of other-bashing election rhetoric. But wouldn't it be great if it were true?
So under what circumstances can differences unite? When there's a purpose or core value bigger than the differences, for one. I've heard a few government leaders this week, republican and democratic alike, say they are ready to set aside differences so that we can move this country forward. Bravo.
We can also find unity when we set aside the need to win, be right, or place blame - when we focus on finding common ground, such as a social justice issue, or a core theological idea on which all parties can agree. It's from this uniting common ground that we move forward.
We can unite when we realize that differences are really good - that we all bring something important to the table; that when carefully navigated, the end result can be better than what was originally imagined. It takes patience and strong leadership, but it's possible. And possibilities unite people too...
P.S: The Greek have a saying - "why should like know like?" Anaxagora said, "What is not different is to the other who is no different a matter of indifference." and "We come to know the cold by the hot, the sweet by the sour, what is light through what is dark." Maybe this is, at the core, why differences unite.