Diverse but not divided

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Dee Hock, the founder of Visa, launched a worldwide company that brought disparate and generally competitive parties to a common table through trusting that each would approach a common goal in a unique and conscientious manner.

This was a ray of light in a business climate that often discounts the motives and capabilities of its work force. How was he able to do this? By understanding that everyone is capable of great things, if given the opportunity and freedom to explore solutions in their own ways. As a result, he built a credit-card system that draws on various banking institutions globally.

His example has served as an inspiration to me ever since I read about his approach to business many years ago. What's more, it has application to facets of our society and individual lives not covered by business.

What if we, too, trusted in one another's capacity to make decisions and contribute to a common goal, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, or education? What if we stopped second-guessing and micromanaging others, and instead came to respect their unique and conscientious approach to a project or to life itself? Wouldn't we all live in greater harmony?

That's not hard to do if we see one another as offspring of a common Parent - God.

This has been a key lesson in my life. What I read about Mr. Hock's approach affirmed what I had intuitively known and practiced. Whether raising stepchildren, running a business, or living among neighbors ethnically different from myself, I had learned that a genuine respect for others' ability to take their marching orders from the one infinite Mind, called God, was the most effective way of living together and working toward common goals.

This required two things: that I become acquainted with myself and everyone else as God knows us, and, as a result, that I trust others' capacity to hear God in their own way.

The Apostle Paul is a great source for discovering what's true about everyone and how this should play out in individual lives. The fact that he had to come face to face with this truth in his own life gives him authority as a guide.

If we'd live according to Paul's insights, we'd have the confidence to go forward, trusting in our own and others' capacity to hear God and act on what we've heard. In very simple terms, he acknowledged that "our sufficiency is of God" (II Cor. 3:5).

In another place, Paul explained, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." He went on to say that this "manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Cor. 12:4, 7). Thinking of Spirit dividing its gifts among all of us, leaving no one out, opens the doors wide for accomplishment.

When we recognize this, we begin to look for these gifts instead of highlighting our shortcomings. This kind of love and respect is powerful beyond measure, because it draws on an infinite source called God.

A hymn illustrates the power of love as follows:

"Love now is dawning over every nation;

Showing true brotherhood, publishing salvation,

Love bids all discord cease.

Conquering hate, enthroning peace,

Love, Love alone is power"

("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 179).

Living in a culture not my own has taught me a lot along these lines. I discover great joy in experiencing another culture, while recognizing that I have my own cultural roots. I'm learning important life lessons. Although my adopted family often speaks with me in a language I little understand, they speak with affection and humor. I'm not uncomfortable, and neither are they.

We laugh about various quirks of our respective cultures, but we have a deep respect for the God-given intelligence that each of us possesses, enabling us to conduct our lives in ways that work. And isn't that what Paul was saying to the Corinthians?

As we increasingly know what's true about ourselves - that Spirit expresses itself in a variety of ways, but it is the same Spirit - we'll be comfortable in our own shoes and allow others to be comfortable in theirs.

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