I believe – in the words of R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller, who gave the world the geodesic dome – that unity is plural.
So what does that mean? Since the root of “unity” is the Latin word for “one,” isn’t “Unity is plural” contradictory? How can oneness be more than one?
Here’s an illustration: an elementary way to represent oneness is a point. See it your mind?
But it’s not a oneness. It’s a duality. First, there’s the point and, second, there’s everything that’s not the point.
Try to imagine the point without surroundings, without something it may be other than, even if what’s other is plain open space.
Can’t do it, can you? At best, the point keeps expanding in all directions, excluding nothing.
That, Bucky Fuller said and I believe, is what oneness is: everything – every electron, atom, and molecule; every planet, star and galaxy; every person, animal, and plant; every thought, dream, and emotion; every beam of light and burst of energy, and all of time.
The only possible oneness – the smallest possible oneness – Bucky said and I believe, is universe taken as a whole, which, for us mortals, is incomprehensible. We can neither see nor imagine anything all alone, completely isolated.
Understanding – thinking itself – Bucky maintained and I believe, begins with, at minimum, duality.
Take, for example, a coin. If we don’t have heads, we not only don’t have tails, we don’t even have a coin.
If not both, then neither. If not both, then nothing.
But wait, there’s more. As an added bonus, “Unity is plural” aligns with modern science’s current best description of how the world works.
It’s consistent with the laws of thermodynamics. “Neither matter nor energy may be created or destroyed” means nothing escapes and everything’s accounted for.
Einstein’s famous equation, E equals MC squared, does the accounting.
And quantum mechanics, the most accurate mathematical predictor of natural phenomena ever devised, demonstrates that every event affects every other event.
So why do I feel compelled to proclaim this belief?
When I was young, these words, by the poet Max Erhmann, invariably brought tears to my eyes:
“You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.”
Raised to fear an arbitrarily wrathful god in a religious tradition that defines the world as a “vale of tears,” and schooled in Darwinism and Social Darwinism, with their emphasis on the individual’s solitary struggle in a dog-eat-dog world, I rarely felt at home in life.
“Unity is plural,” though, demonstrates that I’m always a part of, never apart from, the world.
“Unity is plural” makes me a participant in universe, a partner.
It reveals that if I’m here at all, I belong here.
As a recently popular political slogan has it, “We are one,” not because we wish it, nor because it relieves our loneliness to say so, but rather because it can’t be any other way.
This I believe.