And a Turkey shall bring them all together
I am fortunate; I have a wide diversity of friends in my life, on Facebook and on other social media platforms. No surprise they don’t always get along. One recent Facebook post that fostered the rare harmony though was when I asked everyone to share their favorite Thanksgiving dish.
Suddenly the walls between far Left radical Progressives and extreme Right Conservative Evangelicals came down as people shared their favorite methods to make sweet potatoes and their grandmother’s stuffing/dressing recipes. (One person studiously pointed out that it is not technically stuffing unless it was stuffed into the cavity of the bird. Seems to take all the romance out it somehow.)
The Great Divide
Usually though finding common ground proves to be far more challenging. The two issues that stirs up lots of controversy are climate change and gay reparative therapy (the treatment/ministries designed to cure or transform LGBTQ folks into non-LGBTQ folks.)
I have Facebook friends who believe it is wrong to be gay while others believe offering conversion therapy should be a prosecutable offense. I also have folks who forcefully express their doubts about global warming and while others who become so alarmed about climate change, it has practically become a disability.
No doubt sparks fly, and even more so with the Trump/Clinton/Sanders/Johnson/Stein election fiasco. Of course I have my opinions, very strong ones in fact, but in addition to sharing them, I try to facilitate the conversation.
I am curious about the beliefs of people who believe and think differently from me. I want to discover what motivates them and their values. While we may have totally different viewpoints about a host of political and social issues, we actually share many of the same values.
The Source of our Conflicts
Conflicts arise when people feel that something important, precious, or vital to them is threatened. When we believe our needs will not be met–be it the need for a nice quiet place to sit and have a cup of tea to the ability to find employment and a living wage–we get into fight mode.
People on the extremes share many of the same values–the deep basic ones–safety, respect, and freedom. The conflicts often arise over the source of the threats we face and when we believe one person’s needs trumps another (no pun intended.)
I have no easy answers. The tensions are as high as they have ever been. My goal these days is to watch and listen. I seek to see humanity in everyone without excusing inhumane behavior. Demonizing every person who voted for Trump or Hillary or Obama or Brexit is simply dishonest. It is also lazy.
Round Heads: New Direction
Over Thanksgiving weekend I saw the Francis Picabia exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. I love the title of it, a direct quote from the eclectic 20th Century French artist: Our Heads are Round so our Thoughts can Change Direction.
I’m reminded, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. It is time we try something new and different. The real hard disciplined work of peace building and community building requires being in relationship while listening with respect. It ain’t easy! And it is not as sexy and satisfying as railing against our opponents, but I have seen and heard enough of that. It clearly has not worked. I’m curious to to try a new thing.