Opening Up Possibilities by Finding Common Ground

Much of the shouting this week has been about Nike launching the ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. There’s been a lot of slogans on both sides and as with many of our debates, particularly on social media, few if any minds were changed and little common ground was found. Finding common ground opens up possibilities.

It got me thinking about what we stand for as a nation and came up with two ideas; Duty/Honor and Freedom. While I they’re not mutually exclusive, I think most Americans “lead” with one or the other. Are you a person who believes that the United States was built on Duty & Honor? Or, are you person that believes the United States was built on Living in a country that is free.

My dad for instance and his brothers and sister grew up in the 1930s. They had the duty of helping their family survive the Great Depression. While America was beginniing to have child labor laws, there were no child labor laws in the Taddei family. As soon as they were old enough, they were up before the sun came up, picking lettuce to support the family. They picked lettuce until Uncle Sam called on them to serve their country. In their heart, they knew America was a Free Country but there was a lot of duty and honor going on. The results of the duty and honor was surviving the Great Depression, winning World War II, and putting a man on the moon. #dropthemic

On the other hand as a Baby Boomer in the 1960’s my days were spent playing ball at the park. Mom signed me up, paid the fees, and the Alameda Elks sponsored it. Every summer Mom would make arrangements for us to spend two weeks in the mountains, dad would load the car with our bikes, games, and sports equipment and off we’d go. I don’t know how much the cabin cost and I don’t know how much the lunch we bought on the way up cost, I just knew there was a lake waiting for me. Looking back, I understood I had a lot of freedom it just took me a while to grasp duty/honor.

Do you think our experiences gave us different prospective on things? OF COURSE THEY DID! That’s why it’s almost impossible to talk someone into changing their beliefs and coming over to you side. Our views are shaped by our life experience; good, bad, and indifferent. I believe that the best we can do is find common ground by moving the conversation forward through empathy and compassion. Finding common ground opens up possibilities.

It’s interesting to note that the action of taking a knee has been almost exclusively in the National Football League. While the National Basketball Association has a similar National Anthem rule they don’t seem to have the controversy. Maybe the collaboration that the NBA is known for helps leads to finding common ground. Finding common ground opens up possibilities.

As a family shows love to another family member who might do things that are disappointing, we can show love for country when we’re disappointed in its direction. We can also show empathy when a fellow citizen who has an honest concern about the direction of our country, peacefully act’s out on that concern. Empathy is not Endorsement. Empathy moves the conversation forward. Finding common ground opens up possibilities.

So the next time we’re disagreeing with someone on an issue, let’s look at the options.

  1. We can express outrage and ridicule them in the cleverest way possible.

  2. We can decided that we can’t reason with someone who is so uninformed.

  3. We can learn more about their prospective and the nuances of their argument.

I encourage you to choose the option that opens up possibilities.

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