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Collaboration ~ Finding Common Ground



WE OFTEN HEAR ABOUT HOW WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER; FROM OUR NEIGHBORS, PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES, OTHER RELIGIONS, PEOPLE WHO SPEAK ANOTHER LANGUAGE, DIFFERENT FROM “THOSE PEOPLE,” WHOEVER THEY MAY BE.  THIS INFORMATION MAY COME FROM THE NEWS, SOCIAL MEDIA, INFORMATION SHARED BY FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND SOMETIMES EVEN JOKES, AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.  SOMETIMES PEOPLE PERPETUATE THIS TYPE OF INFORMATION OR TELL THESE TYPES OF JOKES TO DIVIDE US, JUSTIFY THEIR OWN ACTIONS, OR WITH THE HOPE IT WILL MAKE THEM FEEL MORE POWERFUL OR IMPORTANT.  SOMETIMES DIFFERENCES ARE EMPHASIZED, OR NEGATIVE INFORMATION TRUE OR UNTRUE, IS SHARED OUT OF FEAR.  SOMETIMES THIS GIVES US THE IDEA THAT WE ARE IN CAMP A, AND “THOSE OTHER PEOPLE” ARE IN CAMP B.












































SOMETIMES WE EVEN GET THE IDEA THAT THERE IS A CHASM BETWEEN US, IMPOSSIBLE TO CROSS…AND CERTAINLY NOT WORTH THE EFFORT TO TRY.

ONE OF THE THINGS I HAVE DISCOVERED IN LIFE IS THE TRUTH THAT MOST OF US PLACE HIGH VALUE ON SIMILAR GOALS.  FOR EXAMPLE: I CANNOT REMEMBER EVER MEETING ANYONE WHO DIDN’T WANT CLEAN DRINKING WATER.  I CAN GO ON AND ON WITH PAGES AND PAGES OF THINGS WHICH ARE IMPORTANT TO ME, AS WELL AS MOST PEOPLE I’VE MET AND WORKED WITH OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES WORKING WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS, FROM MANY BACKGROUNDS, RACES, ETHNICITIES, RELIGIONS, OR NO RELIGION AT ALL.  SOME OF THESE PEOPLE MAY EVEN HAVE VERY DIFFERENT VIEWS ON MORALITY, POLITICS, OR ANY ONE OF A NUMBER OF SUBJECTS… AND YET THERE IS MUCH ON WHICH WE AGREE.

I HAVE ALSO FOUND THAT WE USUALLY FIND WHAT WE LOOK FOR.  WHEN WE LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN PEOPLE, WE USUALLY FIND IT.  WHEN WE LOOK FOR COMMONALITIES, WE USUALLY FIND THEM.  IF WE LOOK FOR DIFFERENCES, WE ALSO FIND THEM.  WITH MOST PEOPLE IT IS POSSIBLE… TO FIND AT LEAST SOME COMMON GROUND.















































INSTEAD OF THINKING OF LARGE TENTS DIVIDING CAMP A AND CAMP B, WE MIGHT CONSIDER A LARGE PIE.  ALL OF US RESIDE WITHIN THE PIE.  AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE ARE TWO PIECES.  WITHIN THOSE TWO PIECES LIE THE GOALS MOST OF US SHARE; HOWEVER AS WE MOVE FURTHER FROM THE CENTER WE BEGIN TO DIFFER MORE AND MORE ON THE METHODS TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS.  YES IT IS TRUE, THERE ARE MANY GOALS WE MAY NOT SHARE, BUT FINDING COMMON GROUND IS LOOKING FOR THOSE WHICH WE DO.  WHEN WE FIRST IDENTIFY COMMON GOALS, WE CAN THEN WORK TO DEVELOP A CONSENSUS ON HOW THOSE GOALS CAN BE ACHIEVED.  IN SOME SITUATIONS WE MAY AGREE TO MULTIPLE METHODS ACROSS A SPECTRUM, SATISFYING THE IDEAS AND VALUES OF EVERYONE TO AT LEAST A DEGREE OF MUTUAL SUPPORT.  IN SOME AREAS WE MAY AGREE TO DISAGREE, BUT WITHOUT BEING DISAGREEABLE.