There’s a simple sound bite that tells a leader all he needs to know about holding on to power: unity, not community. On the surface, they appear to be one and the same. In reality, they are like oil and water.
Community accepts diversity; unity deplores it. Community needs neither symbol nor slogan; unity clings to both. In a community, people see things they’d rather not see, hear things they’d rather not hear, and smell things they’d rather not smell; unity is scrubbed clean of all that is offensive.
Community is comfortable with debate and dissent; unity demands that we stay on message. Community is consensus that ascends from the ground up; unity is ideology force-fed from above.
A leader must keep the drones fragmented. He must bombard them with wedge issues, imaginary threats and empty platitudes about “freedom.” Under no circumstances should a leader allow the public to coalesce into a diverse community.
Nothing destroys community faster than angry patriots asking God to bless America as we rape, pillage and torture.
Both symbol and sign reduce life to a question of who’s for us and who’s against us. In doing so, they sound the death knell for the process of compromise and conciliation between conflicting groups in a pluralistic society that is the foundation of community. It is this pluralism that must be crushed beneath the dead weight of ideology.
The time has come to lower our voices, to cease imposing our mechanistic patterns on the biological processes of the earth, to resist the impulse to control, to command, to oppress, and to begin quite humbly to follow the guidance of the larger community on which all life depends.
~Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth