A Mutual Challenge To Solve
I spent a lot of time this morning trying to find a way that I could avoid making this a political chat. Because as of this writing it’s only a week after the 2016 election, that’s pretty hard. America is now openly divided, deeply and bitterly, on so many lines, about so many fundamental ideas. And yet that makes this post even more important.
The everyday example I use to illustrate this idea is universal: one person hogging all the closet space. How would you typically handle this situation? If you say something to the effect of, “You always hog all the closet space and my stuff ends up on the floor,” what kind of response would you expect to come next? I’d guess an unfavorable one. What if the statement was reframed as, “My clothing is ending up on the floor; can we figure out a way for me to have more closet space?” Notice, the “we” in that request pulls you and your partner together for a relationship-based solution. You won’t come across as saying, “I think this is unfair” or “you are a closet pig.”
The key here is to remember that when the talk is about the challenge and not the person, the other person’s guard doesn’t go up. When someone feels included and not on the defensive, they’re more willing to listen and work on a compromise.
That’s what we are all going to have to work on for the foreseeable future. Everybody on the other side is not unremittingly evil. Nor are they all woefully clueless. While you may feel that way about them, hold the thought that they are conditioned to think this way by their surroundings, what they have been brought up to believe, what they are told by people they respect. They likely see you the same way – and you know that isn’t how you view yourself at all. Everybody comes to their decisions with their own particular slant. And underneath all of this back-and-forth, each of you is a soul that is out of time and space. Each soul has been through many incarnations, and does not always espouse the same views as its Personality holds now. (Heck, you’re not even the same gender from life to life.) But for this present moment, this is the Life Challenge that this group of souls has chosen to experience.
Pick out something that needs to be worked on. Start small. Perhaps there is something in your local community that needs to be addressed. Maybe your workplace is divided along political lines, and common ground needs to be found. Could be even that your family is divided into opposing political camps.
Unless one side reaches out to the other to find any common ground, however small, the chasm remains wide and impossible to cross. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, male or female, you can create a bridge across the chasm by finding common cause with your opponent. You may not come at things from the same perspective, but if dialogue remains calm, and ideas are explored by putting everything on the table with patience and deep listening, there may be a meeting ground unexpected, but desperately needed. And if the other person is not sure how to do that, be a Teacher, and be the example. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”