Finding Common Ground
Finding Common Ground is written by our Guest Blogger Gail Nelson. Gail is the Editor of Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine.
The homeschool movement is growing, and that means we have a bigger group of people with whom to meet up, which means more friends, more homeschool-friendly outings and such…right?
It should, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Our society has become more polarized than ever and, thanks to social media, we often never see a dissenting opinion. You see, the purpose of social media, like Facebook, isn’t to inform, but to serve the information you want to see. It isn’t to broaden your horizons.
Why is this a problem?
It’s not…if you’re aware of it, and take the time seek out opposing opinions. Seeing and hearing a variety of opinions, from political to religious to scientific makes us analyze our position. In that analysis, we either solidify our position or find new information that raises even more questions that beg for answers. It’s this questing nature that becomes our greatest asset when we meet someone who believes differently.
Meeting people outside your normal comfort zone does more than make you feel slightly awkward. Really, I swear. That tattooed and pierced dude at the corner gas station? He might have an interesting story. Heck, he might BE the story. The old woman struggling with her groceries? What has she experienced? What can she teach you? The mom with 6 kids under the age of 10…please don’t just make a comment about how full her hands are, she’s well aware of the number of kids she has. Offer to help. Listen to these people as they tell you their story.
I dare you to let them make their point, to feel heard.
This is how you find common ground – not by desperately trying to get your ideas across, by talking until they beg for mercy. When you do let the other person make their point, you really begin to understand their perspective.
Learning to listen and really understand one another breeds respect. It’s this sort of respect that we’re lacking today, and I think it’s why so many of us are retreating to groups that share similar beliefs.
It’s wonderful to have a safe space, a group of people with similar beliefs. It’s also important to have a safe space to which we can retreat when things get really kooky. Religious groups, secular groups, etc. are valuable places where we can feel safe in our respective beliefs. But living in that safe space can cut us off from experiences that would enrich our lives in the most unexpected ways.
This is true for people from ALL religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. This isn’t a Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Pagan, Muslim issue, this is a people issue.
To disagree is normal and human, otherwise we would all be a bunch of robots, walking around doing the same thing every day, in the same way. Boring! Finding common ground by actively seeking out similarities makes you more tolerant of differences without sacrificing anything of your own beliefs.
I believe that learning about what another person believes doesn’t denigrate me. I don’t have to agree with them! Besides, since when has learning about the beliefs another person holds dear become a bad thing? When did disagreeing with your neighbor lead you to cease talking with them?
Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine is devoted to bringing people together – of all backgrounds. I love to learn, and sometimes I learn the most interesting things from people of faiths other than my own. A change of perspective really can make all the difference!
I challenge you to reach out and let the other person make their point. To paraphrase Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator, when you get them to say, “That’s right,” they have made their point and are ready to listen. You might be surprised at the new friends you’ll find!
Gail Nelson, Editor
Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine
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