On a recent trip to Michigan -where everyone dreams of vacationing mid-winter- my family found ourselves in a hotel pool joined only by another family with a few rambunctious little pollywogs of their own. We quickly struck up a conversation and as we discussed new awakenings, somehow the father of the other family turned the conversation to the pro life-pro choice debate. He had strong feelings about the issue, as many people understandably do. It is literally a matter of life or death…at times for the mother-to-be, always for the growing little one inside her.
Historically, I tend to stay quiet (or a long time ago, hotly debate) when people communicate strongly in a direction in which I lean differently. But as I watch the political divide ever-increase in the United States, people literally choosing to rub shoulders as much as possible and even live in neighborhoods with predominantly those of like-minded views, I see dischord, fear, and even a lack of our leaders being able to reach across the aisle and find compromise. As Brené Brown points out in Braving the Wilderness, the current culture is full of dehumanization based on ideological differences…when we still have so much in common. So on this occasion, I spoke up.
I didn’t attack my fellow swimmer nor pretend to agree with him. I focused on how I love that we can see things entirely differently, but both of our reasonings were based on compassion. One was looking with compassion focused on the right of any human to get every chance to live. The other was looking with compassion centered on quality of life for both parents and children.
There are so many ways to look at every issue.
No one formed an opinion with the intent to hurt others. Both formed their opinions with a deep sense of compassion and care.
I omit my opinion on this topic today because this isn’t about me. This is about us as humans finding common ground: with our neighbors, our relatives, our leaders, and those of different customs, religions, cultures and countries. It is about seeing what we do have in common, what we share. This is a hope and plea that we see the light in everyone and remember as Mem Fox writes so aptly in Whoever You Are , we all smile, laugh, hurt and cry, share joys, love and pain.
I hope you find common ground in an unlikely place today.