I have an idea. I’m sure it’s too idealistic and unfathomable for most American citizens to consider. But here’s a goal that we, as a society, can shoot for in 2019 — How about we find a common ground with individuals we disagree with or despise, instead of dividing and categorizing our perceived enemies? Let’s search for an olive branch instead of setting the tree ablaze. Let’s start thinking about the wellbeing of all people rather than only ourselves and groups with whom we identify. Let’s really be honest — when most of us outwardly voice our opinions and concerns, they’re heavily egocentric. We aren’t taking the argument of our opposition into consideration.
The continuous fragmenting of our views, ideals, and beliefs are only hurting each and every one of us. We assemble our lives and social networks based on people who we feel share similar thoughts and values that we do. We separate and divide ourselves based on race, gender, age, morals, sexuality, ethnic background, religion, political party, media outlet, musical taste, economic income, brand loyalty, geographic location, physical appearance, and so on.
We are continually searching for reasons to dislike one another. And in the age of social media, we are systematically building echo chambers as we banish and shame others who don’t share our perspective. We point fingers, issue blame, and take no responsibility for our own actions. At the end of each day, we all feel more anxious and furious inside, and less accomplished, too. We are fighting losing battles against antagonists that we’ve created; like enraged bulls against matadors. But who’s the bull and who’s the matador? And who’s really provoking who? Who’s waving the red cape and who’s actually seeing red? Apparently, all of us.
Why does life have to be a clusterfuck of angst and anger? Do we not all eat, sleep, and shit? Do we not have hearts and veins that pump blood? You can’t argue against that unless you’re already dead. Life is too god damn short to feel shitty every day. We’ve invented pills and apps to cure every human ailment. How about treating stubbornness and ingesting doses of sympathy and compassion?
I call for a new resolution in 2019: find a common ground.
What I mean is, strike a conversation with your categorical opposite. I dare you to go make friends with someone who completely disagrees with you and find a mutuality. You may discover a shared interested in Freddie Mercury’s musical talent but disagree on his sexuality. That’s fine. Just agree on one element first then build on it. Dig deep if you must. Start with the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie and forage for concurrence:
“That Rami Malek fellow is a talented actor.”
“But he’s Egyptian.”
“He’s American, actually… and Americans used to think ancient Egypt was cool, right? Remember King Tut or The Mummy?”
“Oh, yeah! Right!”
See, it’s not difficult.
We mustn’t continue to chastise each other for being imperfect human beings based on an inaccurate presumption that perfection actually exists in selected people. Because guess what? We are all flawed. That’s correct. I know, it’s implausible. There are no perfect humans, not even Jerry Seinfeld, Giada De Laurentiis, or Tom Hanks. They’re all (probably) screwed up in one way or another. But that’s okay. We can accept people for their shortcomings and still get along with them.
Can this system of sympathetic understanding be applied to all individuals? No. And why? Because some people are plain stubborn. Or mentally ill. Just let them be or stay away from them. The less attention you give them, the less they’ll act out (unless medication is needed). But to individuals who disrupt your daily life, like a politician, use whatever power you have to weaken theirs.
Voting’s a good start.
And if you meet someone who voted for your candidate’s opponent, at least you both voted for god sake, and that’s a common ground.