Unity Stories


The pyramids of the Giza Plateau are possibly the most famous structures in the world. The pyramids had great social meaning when they were built. Much more than just royal tombs, they represented the dignity and power of kings. So building a pyramid was a national project involving the entire country. Every household in Egypt sent workers, grain, and food to contribute to this project, which enabled the king to become a god in the afterlife.

The final step in the building program was to place a capstone encased in gold on top of the pyramid. The capstone signified that the monumental project was finally finished, and it was a time for dancing and singing as the entire nation celebrated completion of the national project.

In this sense, it was the pyramids that built Egypt rather than the other way around. The pyramids unified the nation in the service of one great and monumental achievement.

We can learn from this experience. Unity derives from a shared vision and common purpose. Just as there were great differences among all those Egyptian workers so there may be great differences among us. However, when we focus on a common task and goal the unity and the achievements of unity can be great.

Source: information from “Egypt Revealed” magazine.

The Opposite of Unity

Tradition claims that Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchure is built over the cave in which Christ is said to have been buried.  In July 2002 the church became the scene of ugly fighting between the monks who run it. The conflict began when a Coptic monk sitting on the rooftop decided to move his chair into the shade. This took him into the part of the rooftop courtyard looked after by the Ethiopian monks.

It turns out that the Ethiopian and Coptic monks have been arguing over the rooftop of the Church of the Holy Sepulchure for centuries. In 1752 the Ottoman Sultan issued an edict declaring which parts of the Church belong to each of six Christian groups: the Latins, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Copts, and Ethiopians. Despite the edict conflict over the church remains.

The rooftop had been controlled by the Ethiopians, but they lost control to the Copts when hit by a disease epidemic in the 19th century. Then in 1970 the Ethiopians regained control when the Coptic monks were absent for a short period. They have been squatting there ever since, with at least one Ethiopian monk always remaining on the roof to assert their rights. In response a Coptic monk has been living on the roof also, to maintain the claim of the Copts.

And so we get to a Monday in July 2002, when the Coptic monk moves his chair into the shade. Harsh words led to pushes, then shoves, until an all our brawl is going, including the throwing of chairs and iron bars. At the end of the fight 11 of the monks were injured, including one monk unconscious in hospital and another with a broken arm.

How tragic that a church which serves as a memorial to Christ is the scene for such bitter conflict among his followers. This is a far cry from Christ’s call to love one another, turn the other cheek, and his prayer that his followers might “be one”.
Source: story reported by Reuters, Monday July 29, 2002