There were two occasions today where it was good and satisfying to find common ground with others. The first came at the end of a week at work somewhat dominated in my responsibilities by a controversy that provoked much discussion and debate on our internal social network – an online community I manage consisting of 20,000 employees. After hearing all sides on the matter via opinion poll and hundreds of comments, after discussing it with my awesome team, we came to what I think is a reasoned, well-thought-out decision on how to move forward. We communicated it to the community and got only positive feedback for the decision and the process used to arrive at it. That felt good.
The second occasion was when I posted a quote from Susan B. Anthony on Facebook. I knew before I posted it that the value it espouses could easily be interpreted to support the positions held by wildly opposing sides of hot button political issues. Seeing that play out in who “liked” the post confirmed that thought.
We are a very polarized nation. At a smaller level, some who read this may also face polarized workplaces, communities, neighborhoods, churches, schools or homes. I won’t make the naive plea that we all just get along, but it sure would make for a better world if we proactively worked at finding common ground amidst our differences and more frequently focused and acted on those shared values.
Agreeing on basic principles is a lot easier, though, than agreeing on how to implement those principles. We’ll see that ad nauseum in the general election campaign ahead of us this year. From both sides, we will get our fill of selective memories and interpretation of data, painting one side as all bad and the other as exactly what we need for the future. There will be some truth and some falsehood in what we hear from both sides. Is it too much to ask to have some moments of civility when both candidates actually admit they can agree on some things without demonizing the other person?
I won’t hold my breath.
Still, leap year lesson #136 is It’s nice to find common ground.