Be an Activist: Searching for Common Ground

Peaceful relationships of any kind can develop based on what we have in common. This holds true whether we are talking about personal relationships or world peace. There is an abundance of common ground between us all. Our false perceptions of ourselves and others have created unnecessary conflicts between many segments of our society. At its core, the polarization between races, cultures, gender, and fundamentalist religions versus atheism are needlessly created by mankind. These false views are a product of cultural indoctrination and a need to be right (which stimulates our personal ego). Rectifying these ingrained perspectives requires our dedicated search for the truth. It requires a personal and focused journey to reconnect with our humanity. To paraphrase Socrates’ famous quotation: A life unexamined is a life not worth living. Our search for truth includes: Who am I? What are my deepest passions in life? What gives me personal meaning? These issues are at the core of each person. The imperative is to deprogram one’s false perceptions of self and others.

As I see it, basically there are two basic aspects to developing human harmony. First, getting connected to the core of one’s humanity – our inner work. Second, developing a practice of noticing how everything is interconnected. Thus, our common ground will become more apparent.

If, for the moment, one could be completely neutral regarding the reality of a God, consider the following: Whether you believe there is an entity called God, or whether you believe there is no such thing, recognize that regardless of your belief system the laws that govern this universe remain the same. It has been estimated that close to one-fifth of our population is either atheist or agnostic. At the core of mainline religious beliefs are principles and values that are shared. In other words, they comprise a basic understanding on how to live a good and noble life. These basic understandings/core principles are not necessarily in conflict with an atheist perspective.

Determining the way to live productively and in harmony with each other, and with the planet, is not an exact physical science. Our thoughts create physiological changes – a shift in our personal chemistry and emotions. Our emotions and chemistry are noticeably different between being happy or sad. We are social beings and cannot rely on pure science to determine the best way to live. However, with precise terminology and a preponderance of properly gathered anecdotal information, a guide to living more harmoniously with others and to embracing all humanity is greatly enhanced.

Our common ground is illuminated with precise terminology.

When we use words that do not have a commonly agreed meaning, a meeting of the minds is not probable. It is necessary to give and/or ask for word definitions where confusion seems likely. When conflicting opinions occur, it is a good time to make sure that common definitions are in play. For example, my definition of spirituality is: a belief that everything is interconnected. When one asks others for their definition, a variety of responses will occur.

Shifting words or ideas to avoid emotional impact is critical. For example, if someone is taking the words personal integrity as an unintended attack, then try using different words that are more universal, for more clarity. As an example, the structure of a building is only as good as its weakest point, and so it is with each person. Individually, we become mentally and physically stronger when all aspects of our lives are in integrity with each other. In other words, being in complete harmony with oneself is an ongoing process. Rattling someone’s cage is ultimately not very effective because it sets up a separation. Therefore, being sensitive to the concerns and perspectives of others would enhance the possibility of fruitful dialogue and provide valuable insight to all participants in the conversation.

Our integrity equates to increased structural sustainability.