This painting was inspired by contemplating two kinds of global unity.
Unity is first represented by the dark world to the left. This image depicts what unity has historically looked like in international relations: unity through force. Conquering nations impose unity through coercion. Peoples are subjugated, crushed, and united in their chains. Throughout history this narrative of unity has prevailed, causing lasting harm to oppressed groups. The rusty chain and lock which hold the earth in bondage symbolise the bonds of the oppressed. Deep divisions between nations are illustrated in the cracks in the earth itself. This is “shattered unity”.
But there is a second, radiant kind of unity. It is represented by the colourful globe to the right. In stained glass artwork, broken shards of glass are melded together into a beautiful whole. Like vibrant stained glass, each nation in this image maintains its unique culture instead of being forced towards one, bleak ideal. There is also a greater sense of understanding between nations and this clarity allows light to shine through the cracks where previous divisions existed.
Despite the fact that steps of reconciliation and peace building have been taken, this second unity has still not been attained. Presently, nations remain self-interested and seek power at others’ expense. This, too, is “shattered unity”.
The two kinds of “shattered unity” are before us, just as they appear before us in this painting. We must choose which version of “shattered unity” we will pursue.