We tend to identify ourselves by what are differences are. Unless we are isolated, and then we begin to find people who are similar. Play at game with me and imagine you are at a big party, with tons of different personalities in the room. There are a few outliers that will either work the room and campaign for mayor or find an isolated spot to do serious people watching, but most of us look for what’s familiar and stick with those people. We go into search mode for what we may have in common with the strangers around us, then when we find it we settle in with them.
We find those people that fit our understanding of how we see the world, then we begin picking at the differences amongst everyone else (church denominations, cliques in high school, or political parties.) For many this is where the common ground game ends. For for a few of us this is where something changes for us.
The “common ground” isn’t as common as you once thought. You’ve picked at the differences in others, and realize that those differences are suddenly more attractive than the common ground you once held so dear. Or maybe that not’s exactly true, but you find that even though you have huge differences; you also have huge agreements in other values. We’re not talking huge changes or even 180-degree turn arounds, but just enough to make you want to find common ground with those you disagree with.
I believe this is what common ground was always intended to mean; not gathering with those we agree with, but finding agreement in the opinions, thoughts, and ideas of others. If we can find common ground in the scatterings, then we’ve really achieved something. So whether it’s the first day of school, attending a new small group at church, talking to strangers in a coffee shop, or trying to get along with family members; we can all learn to find the common ground. It’s not about eliminating the differences, they are still there and for some will always be there. It’s just that now the differences take a back seat for the moment.
And if you’re a person that’s never had a ‘change of heart’ toward those you should love, maybe you should.