We have opposing views.
Not just you and I, but “we”. The collective populace of these “United States.”
We see the world through different lenses. And we apply different filters to those lenses. This is nothing new. It’s been that way since…the beginning.
We have always been a country of opposing views on what’s right, and what’s best, but we have typically found a way to work through those differences and find common ground, and a way forward.
Today, however, it seems to me more often than not we would rather knock those proverbial glasses off the other’s face, crush the lenses, and do our best to force the other side to view the world through our own lens. The correct lens. Very little of, “I want to understand where you’re coming from,” but much more, “I want to prove I’m right.”
The world is changing at an amazing rate. A change-rate that I do not think our founders could have ever imagined. And that change-rate is not going to slow down. It’s likely to be ever-increasing, and we had better find a way to at least acknowledge and understand that change, if not control it. Social media, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and instant information always in our hands or pockets are fundamentally changing the way we communicate. And I’m not sure we have even begun to recognize, let alone deal with, the way these changes affect us on a daily basis.
With a nod and thanks to Bob Dylan, I’d like to suggest that there must be some kind of way out of here. There must be some kind of relief.
I’m very concerned that if we do not find that “better” way soon, we may lose the opportunity to correct course and save our nation.
BTW – it may not sound like it, but I’m an optimist. I firmly believe we can find the correct course. We can become the country the framers likely envisioned when they risked their lives to sign the Declaration of Independence, and while struggling through the long and arduous task of compromise to find a way through to our Constitution.
I’ve concluded over the last number of months, through my writing and social media conversations, that there is a vital first step that must be taken to move our conversations in the right direction.
I would like to suggest that we expend at least as much time and energy trying to find common ground, as we do trying to prove that our viewpoint is correct.
I believe common ground exists, and that this common ground is the only solid foundation upon which we have the potential to successfully continue this grand experiment we call the United States of America.
We simply must find a shared common vision that we can ALL work towards, or we’re going to spend all of our time fighting each other, and likely bringing about our own demise, thus failing the experiment.
What are some aspects of this shared vision? Most everyone I have talked to of late agrees on some form of the following:
Everyone should have access to high-quality basic healthcare.
The security of our country is a high priority.
Stable employment, safe housing, and opportunities for growth at an individual level are vital.
Individual rights are critical, as long as they do not step on the rights of others.
The founders got a lot right in the Constitution, but not everything.
Most politicians are more interested in staying in office than serving us.
To these…I’d like to add a few of my own:
We are extremely blessed to live in this country, we should act as such AND strive to make sure we ALL have access to the resources of this country.
Career politicians and the hunt for money that so often comes with that status, more often than not, leads to great harm to our nation.
The people we elect to represent us at all levels should actually represent US (the people), not US (the corporations and big money donors).
To find common ground, I have found that there is an absolutely vital, personal first step – if you’re willing to take it. And it can be a tough one. I believe one must be willing to spend the time trying to understand why the other side believes as they do. Not why are they wrong, but why and how have they come to the conclusions they have?
I have found the following questions to be helpful:
What has happened in this person’s life to lead them to their conclusions?
How is it that we see the world so differently?
What would it be like to wear their glasses for a while?
What challenges are they facing in life that I may not be aware of?
I will admit, there is a risk to this approach. If you sincerely take the time to understand the other side’s viewpoint, you may begin to realize that what you thought were absolutes, perhaps were not. They were opinions, and they might just be open to interpretation and modification. You might just find yourself changing your mind.
It can be an uncomfortable way to live life. Proving we’re right can feel very rewarding in the short term. Being open to and willing to change one’s mind can be scary.
But I believe it is a much more rewarding and fulfilling way to live. Even if it does cause moments of concern.
I believe we CAN do better.
I believe we MUST do better.
Working to find common ground, and taking the time to understand why the “other” side believes as they do, is a great place to start.
I will continue to write, in hopes that, together, we can find this common ground.