How to Find Common Ground When The Gap Seems Too Wide

Two of the most common words I’m hearing lately in regards to society and politics are “polarized” and “divided.” In fact, I find myself using these words all the time now, too. 

I’ve also heard a lot of talk about how we got here and what we can do to bridge the widening gap; and this reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few years back called “Hear Me Out.” 

While the problems of our world are certainly complicated and there are no easy answers, I do believe that attempting to truly hear one another, going below the surface where our shared hopes and fears reside, may be our saving grace.

This means, if someone holds a different view than you, the best way to bridge the gap is to listen for the thing behind the thing. What fear might be driving their views? When and why did that fear arise? What shame are they carrying? What are they really hoping to achieve beyond the obvious? What has influenced the lens through which they see the world? Which of their physical or emotional needs are not being met?

An image of Melissa walking down a sidewalk alone, staring off into the distance as if looking for someone. The overlain text reads, "How to Find Common Ground When The Gap Seems Too Wide." Photo Credit: Debra Snell Photography

You don’t necessarily have to ask these questions verbatim. You just need to hold space for the other person without an agenda. If you’re seeking to fully understand someone, you’ll likely find the answers anyway. And you may also find that their answers aren’t that much different than your own. You may find some common ground. 

Because, at the end of the day, we’re all human beings floating through the universe on a miraculous and mysterious planet called Earth. We all experience fear and unknowing and shame. We all experience glimmers of hope that things could be better tomorrow than they are today. This is the human experience. 

And our humanity will always be what unites us. 

As Carl Sagan once said:

“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

Zoom out, my friends, and then zoom in on what really matters. 

My fear is that we’ve lost the plot. We’ve lost our sense of shared humanity. But my hope is that we can get it back. My hope in writing this blog post is that we will all seek to listen for the deeper truths more often, and we’ll grow together, instead of apart, as a result. 

I’d love to hear what YOU think will help bridge the gap. Feel free to leave a comment below, if you have any thoughts you’d like to share. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *