It seems like an ocean between us. That the views we share on each side are polar opposites. We bicker, argue, and make impassioned pleas as to why our point of view is the right one.
And when we really take a step back and look at that friend or that co-worker on the other side of the coin, are we really that divided? Is what we are striving for really that different?
What is it that most of us strive for? A better way of life for our kids, our family and for ourselves – the so called American Dream. It’s a way of life about hope, about being friends with our neighbors, about living in a community that we feel a part of. To feel that sense of inclusion and purpose.
What is driving us apart? Our surroundings. The neighborhoods we take residence up in. The places we work. The grocery stores we shop in. And what our communities feel like in contrast to the past.
The cities and the urban cores have recovered. Many are thriving. Optimism hovers over the businesses that operate there.
And the smaller towns? Many are wrestling with a changing world. Change that leaves many longing for a time past. When things were bristling. When everyone was able to find good paying work.
And so when things are booming and things are going your way, you feel in control. You feel as if life is looking up and as if you have the power to create a better life for yourself. And you just can’t understand why anyone would try and screw that up for you.
But when you are fighting an uphill battle, you feel powerless. When you are anchored in the past, it’s hard to feel as if you have control over your current reality.
And that lack of control and that feeling of powerlessness – it’s destructive. It leads us to focus on others. It leads us to focus on what we don’t have and not what we do have. The feeling of gratitude which can be so healing – is gone. We start to fight for fairness – to make sure the next person isn’t given anymore than us because we work just as hard.
And it’s this focus on fairness and comparison that is so present and so dangerous in the minds of those that are struggling.
But rather than hearing these wounded cries – we push them away and we demean them. We call each other bigots, idiots, libtard’s, hillbilly’s and the likes. Surely – we can see how this isn’t helpful.
It’s true on both sides of the coin. What each side of the coin is striving for is so similar. And yet the way we go about it is so different. And at this stage of the game, so damaging.
Rather than looking for commonalities – we seek out the differences. We look for the things that separate us. And it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re not so different – you and I. I have twin daughters and a wife that mean the world to me. And everything I do each day is to fight for a better future for all of us. Is that much different than what you want? My picture may be a little rosier because of the city I live in, but it doesn’t change what I value in life.
Sure we can argue about the right policy or the right way to go about it. But first, let’s agree we aren’t all that different. And let’s understand we are really striving for the same thing.
Division creates more division. Love is the only thing that can break down barriers. Put the judgement aside, open your heart, and listen. It’s the only way we create the future we both seek.