Oneness or unity is what makes us human.
Hominids, the first human beings evolved because they were able to connect in social groups on an emotional level. We have lost a huge part of our natural instincts, no longer living in harmony with nature we risk losing the emotional bonds which make us human.
Contemporary human life seems to be fragmented in so many directions; we have leisure time, work or school time, family time, hobby time and “me-time”. While we move in so many directions, to different obligations across continents we also we have built technical equipment that makes the world our village. Which seems so strange in contrast to the way humans originally lived, in harmony with a small group and relatively small habitat.
This complex interplay of people, space, time and transcendent reality has led man to need to develop himself in order to distinguish himself from another average human being.
This ongoing fragmentation of our united humanity and habitat is increasingly tearing people’s life apart, and those that suffer most are our children. It is high time we chose to lead our children, and ourselves, back to our roots, those of harmony and unity with others and our environment.
How Can We Define Unity?
Each person has a profound need to belong to a group of other people. But oneness is more than purely being connected to other people. It also is an urge to relate yourself to the environment where you were born and raised.
We can define unity as the development of the self within the community of mankind, in the vastness of space and time in a transcendent reality. When bringing this unity into an ethical framework it can be called a virtue.
There are a lot of definitions of virtues, however, Aristotle saw virtues as moral excellence.
Striving for moral excellence needs thoughtfulness and a drive for individual development together with social involvement. Which is definitely needed in this era of individualism, extremism and egotism.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle
Teaching Our Children The 5 Virtues of Unity
First of all, we need to bring more unity in parenting and education. Families and schools too often look like two different worlds, with their own goals and methods.
This shouldn’t be the case as both have the same goal: providing the optimal conditions for children to develop their talents and characteristics.Furthermore, we can also come up with supporting virtues to help children understand more about unity.
The main virtue in the community of mankind is undoubtedly love. Love has several meanings, but as a virtue, it is the acceptance of differences between people and even the appreciation of differences.
Love is a power that binds us emotionally to other people.
The first human beings showed love for the small community they lived in, but as we have developed to live in a globalised world, we should accept and appreciate ALL people who enter into our lives.
There is an important lesson to learn from caring for the environment. When our ancestors lived in a limited area, they honored and cared about wildlife, they feared the power of lightning and thunder and worshipped the abundance energy of the sun.
Nowadays we live in a vast environment – not only on earth as outer space has also become part of our territory. Nevertheless, we should honor and care for all of the space we live in and we need to teach our children this lesson.
Time is an invention of man, we have split up a continuous cycle into parts from seconds to centuries in order to get a grip on vastly abstract phenomena. Living in unity with time means that we need to learn from history to provide for the present, this application and consideration of our past in forming our plans for the future is at its best when we share and practice wisdom.
Let me explain this by means of science. Science leads to knowledge, but wisdom helps us to distinguish whether we should bring knowledge into practice or just leave it as knowledge.
4) Acceptance of the Transcendent Reality
This is a true acceptance that not all is controllable, understandable or predictable. One which is difficult to fully understand when we are being drenched in our daily reality. Experiencing the transcendent reality – what transcends man – holds up a mirror and helps us to understand that we belong to the whole.
At this point, it might look that we are fully predestined and determined because of the infinity of mankind’s history and the vastness of time and space within a transcendent reality.
5) Self Respect
Nevertheless, people differ in what characterises them, what moves them. We have all our personal goals and dreams. So, the goal of life for each of us is to find our self and develop our potential. The main virtue to make this possible is self-respect.
7 Ways to Teach Your Kids The 5 Virtues of Unity
It looks hard and seems so abstract, but there are a lot of daily activities that lead to and enhance one’s sense of unity. Because we want to teach our children about the unity of all of these factors, it would not make sense to plan activities that led to learning just one of these elements: community, space, time, transcendent reality or personal development.
All of the activities should lead to several of these elements at the same time. Of course, this list is never complete but here are a few ideas to get you started:
In my native language, Dutch, there is a proverb that says:
“words awake, examples are imitated.”
What this means is that preaching will have lesser effect on the children’s thinking and learning than their own actions. Children learn without being taught; they “steal with their eyes”.
Our daily behaviours and way of living will stand model for the next generation, whether we want our children to learn everything or not.
There are many methods to storytelling: family stories, legends, fairy tales, movies, quotes etc. All these ways of storytelling help to share knowledge and wisdom between generations. They also bring people together and reinforce relationships.
Travelling from a perspective of unity has little to do with tourism. It means that we leave our own daily routine to broaden our horizon. It has to do with meeting other people in their daily living and trying to understand and accept their ways. It is crossing your own borders and stepping into other worlds.
Travelling broadens our perspective; it teaches us to see differences as a richness instead of a problem. Travelling leads us across the borders of our limited community; across the borders of our own limited space and time. It shows us the things that go beyond our knowledge and invites us to share our lives with people we meet along the way.
We are a part of nature; we are nature. That is why natural experiences affect us in such a profound way and why we should give our children opportunities to experience earth, water, wind and fire.
Walking barefooted in wet grass, in sand or on pebbles are necessary childhood experiences. Being outside when it’s raining and the wind is blowing, is the best way to be overwhelmed by natural elements. And when staring into the flames of a bonfire a child learn to relax more than anything else.
Just like meeting people while travelling, why not meet the different animals and plants whilst exploring the elements. We can also bring animals and plants in our daily routine by means of pets or indoor and outdoor plants. We can even grow our own vegetables. Which is important for the next activity.
Cooking with home-grown vegetables teaches children the circle of life and cycle of the seasons. And when we bring that food to the table and enjoy a meal together, our children learn unity as a habitual experience.
Celebrations are about gathering and bringing honor to what unites us. We celebrate important events in our lives and have sentimental annual rituals. Holidays, literally meaning holy days provide space unity by definition. We gather together as a community, we connect with time and space, we honor what transcends us and we try to make it unique by being part of it.
Rites, rituals and symbols help us to give words to what is ineffable and give shape to the abstract. Often, pictures are taken while celebrating and these form part of the arts that play an important role in uniting people, time, space and transcendent reality.
I am not talking about the maestro’s and Michelangelo’s of the world, in this context, I am referring to the arts of oneness. That man always feels the need to give image to his impressions of the world by means of symbolic forms and colors: drawings, stylized figures, images, forms, poetry, music, pictures etc.
We shouldn’t limit our children in materials, creative tasks or creative ways. Modeling how we creatively give form to our impressions and feelings stimulates our children to develop personal taste and interests.
Creativity is a personal process through the imagination of one’s perceived reality. If we understand arts this way, it supports personal development in the holistic context of community, space, time and transcendence.
History shows us that we have lost a great deal of our connection to each other, time and space. This ongoing process has been speeding up the last few decades with advancements in technology and globalisation.
The time has come to re-focus on our unity and we, as the adults, teachers and parents of the next generation, have a huge responsibility to model moral excellence for our children and to give as many opportunities as possible to experience the virtues of unity and transcendence.
If our offspring can grow up with more awareness of the importance of unity, we can turn the tide and create a new generation filled with love, connection, care, wisdom and self-respect.
This article is a summarised version of the book ‘EENHIED‘ by Gerrit De Moor. The book is only in Dutch however you can contact the author for more information or check out his other article on Sacred Sanctions
About the Author
Alongside being an author, Gerrit De Moor is the Founder and Chairman of the Belgium branch of The Virtues Project International Association, a global grassroots initiative inspiring others the practice virtues in everyday life. His dream is to spark a global revolution of kindness, justice, and integrity in more than 100 countries.