Unity in diversity

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Unity in diversity (Latin: unitas in varietate) is a political motto advocating federalism multiculturalism. The phrase is a deliberate oxymoron, the rhetorical combination of two antonyms, unitas "unity, oneness" and varietas "variety, variousness".

The phrase can be traced to Leibniz, who uses it as a definition of "harmony" (Harmonia est unitas in varietate) in his Elementa verae pietatis, sive de amore dei super omnia (1677/8).[1] In modern politics it was first used, as In varietate unitas, by Ernesto Teodoro Moneta in the context of Italian Unification. In 1943 it invoked by Adélard Godbout, Premier of Quebec, in the context of the situation of French Canadians within Canada. The variant In varietate concordia[2] was adopted as the motto of the European Union in 2000.[3]

History of usage

In 1938, in his book The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, said that "unity in diversity" was the "watchword" for the religion.[4]

Adélard Godbout, while Premier of Quebec, published an article entitled "Canada: Unity in Diversity" (1943) in the Council on Foreign Relations journal. He asked,[5]

The phrase has since become somewhat of a staple of Canadian multiculturalism in general. [6] The phrase was invoked in the Interdisciplinary Research Seminar at Wilfrid Laurier University in the 1970s. Ervin Laszlo presented his paper entitled "Framework for a General Systems Theory of World Order" (1974) as one of the first seminar Papers that led to the establishment of the IRS in 1975.[7] The motto of the province of Saskatchewan, adopted in 1986, is a variation, Multis e gentibus vires (from many peoples, strength).

When the Apartheid of Republic of South Africa celebrated 20 years of independence on 31 May 1981, the theme of the celebrations was "unity in diversity". Anti-apartheid campaigners denounced the motto as a cynical attempt to explain away the inequalities in South African life and called on runners of the Comrades Marathon to protest at the co-option of the event by wearing a black armband. The winner of the race, Bruce Fordyce, was one of those wearing a black armband. The term has since been incorporated into the preamble of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa as a central tenet of post-Apartheid South Africa.[8]

In 2000, the European Union adopted 'United in Diversity' (Latin: In varietate concordia) as official motto, a reference to the many and diverse member states of the Union in terms of culture. Apart from its English form, the European Union's motto is also official in 23 other languages. "Unity in diversity" was selected by means of a competition involving students from member nations. According to the European Union official website

Unity in Diversity is also a slogan utilized by the disciples of Swami Sivananda. They came to America to spread the true meaning of Unity in Diversity; that we are All in One & One in All in an all loving ahimsa God. On Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Centres and Ashrams website you can view their OM logo with the words: Serve Love Meditate Realize Unity in Diversity.

See also


  1. ^ ed. Grua (1948) I.12/A VI.4.1358. Leibniz glosses the definition with Harmonia est cum multa ad quandam unitatem revocantur "'Harmony' is when many [things] are restored to some kind of unity".
  2. ^ i.e. the EU replaced varietas by concordia "concord, cordial accord" in the Latin version and inverted word order. In the English version unity was retained (French unité).
  3. ^ "European Motto in varietate concordia", Eurominority, 2004, retrieved 10 January 2014 
  4. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1938), The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, ISBN 0-87743-231-7, retrieved 10 January 2014  Effendi, Shoghi (1938), "Unity in Diversity", World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, pp. 41–42, ISBN 0-87743-231-7, retrieved 10 January 2014 
  5. ^ Godbout 1943.
  6. ^ Godbout, Adelard (April 1943), Canada: Unity in Diversity, 21 (3), Council on Foreign Relations, retrieved 10 January 2014  "Gwich'in Tribal Council Annual Report 2012 - 2013: Unity through diversity" (PDF), Gwich’in Tribal Council, 2013, retrieved 5 September 2014  Roxanne, Lalonde (April 1994), "Edited extract from M.A. thesis", Unity in Diversity: Acceptance and Integration in an Era of Intolerance and Fragmentation, Ottawa, Ontario: Department of Geography, Carleton University, retrieved 9 January 2014 
  7. ^ Nyiri, Nicolas A.; Preece, Rod (1977), Unity in Diversity, 1, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, ISBN 0-88920-058-0, retrieved 14 February 2012 
  8. ^ Morgan, Brad (nd), Bruce Fordyce: Comrades King 
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