June has passed us by in a hurry it seems. I've been quite vocal and oppositional this month. A good friend of mine reminded me thought of the importance of seeing where people are coming from.
When you really look deeply most of us want the same things. We want to feel safe, we want to have a place to call home, a sense of meaning in our lives, have access to health care, and to have people around ourselves who love us. There are other things that each of us may desire, but this is the basic list of must haves.
When we disagree on politics and issues we're not disagreeing about what we want. We're only disagreeing on how we think it can be achieved. It is so easy to forget that in the heat of a debate. We begin to distort how we see each other, thinking that the other person wants to take one of those basic needs away from us. I've been seeing this with the gun control debate. It really all boils down to personal safety. Whether you're for gun control or not you want to feel safe and secure in public and at home. For some reason public rhetoric has shifted towards equating disagreement with the projection of villainy onto others. I see people on both sides, liberals and conservatives both say the other candidate is out to destroy America. Really, that's their goal? Now one side or the other may push a policy that could be very damaging, but I doubt their aim is to destroy the country. (Well in most cases...)
It can be hard to remain cool and reasonable with important issues. Passion is not a bad thing, however we risk alienating those that we may wish to convince or negotiate with if we are blinded by it. I have found that the best way to reach someone is to acknowledge our commonalities. It isn't easy, and certainly not as dramatic as Reality TV would like us to think life is, but it's the only way to get along in society and get things done.
So why am I telling you this? Well there are a lot of important decisions that we as a society need to make in the coming years. We're at a crossroads in history and all our wagons are hitched together. We don't have the option of going it alone so need to learn to come to a choice we can all live with, or none of us will. So consider your interactions carefully. Listen and see where the underlying needs of your opponents are the same. Those are the starting points from which we must build, otherwise we shall continue to only tear each other apart.
Peace and Blessings,