Oct. 8, 2010: ‘Unity of purpose’ proves to be worth the time and effort, by Charles B. Johnson

October 8, 2010 by

“Unity of purpose” is a virtuous goal when pursuing a public endeavor and can lead to the best solution for an idea or public project. But often, when a public endeavor is presented and is said to have unity of purpose, what that really means is that whoever is promoting it always has the result in mind. This makes for a more dictatorial result than one arrived at by a general consensus of all the interested and affected parties.

To achieve true unity of purpose, all affected parties must be able to have open and honest discussion. The promoters of the idea or project, in calling for unity of purpose — otherwise called “public support” — must demonstrate an open-minded attitude and allow a complete airing of all competing points of view. But that’s a requirement that’s difficult to achieve and often avoided.

Two major reasons for a lack of adequate open public discussion of problematic issues are:

1) The promoting party has the initiative in presenting information to the public about an idea or project and delays publicizing that information in a timely manner, and

2) It is more appealing and convenient to avoid public discussions that could become controversial, and might even result in a response that differs from what the promoter wants.

When unity of purpose is achieved, or even nearly achieved, solutions can be found for seemingly out-of-reach endeavors or complicated problems.

An example of an event where almost complete national unity of purpose was demonstrated would be World War II. The citizens of the United States of America as a whole, along with those people in the rest of the world who desired freedom, put forth a very concerted, common effort to defeat the dictatorial Axis powers of the world — and they succeeded.

A modern-day endeavor where unity of purpose is being sought is the proposed construction of a religious education center by people of the Islam faith near the area in New York City where the World Trade Center stood before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Public discussion of this issue is very much in our current daily news and I hope will result with a resolution of the problem after considering all the differing points of view of the affected parties.

Any effort invested in public debate usually pays off with huge dividends. The public is more apt to feel satisfied and be cooperative when there is an opportunity to have their views meaningfully considered in the resolution of public issues.

Charles B. Johnson is a member of the Concordia City Commission and the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.

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