Many years ago, I took a class in conflict resolution, in which I learned this: The easiest conflicts to resolve are those in which all sides agree on the desired outcome, but disagree on how to get there. The most entrenched conflicts are those in which people neither agree on the desired outcome nor on the actions that should be taken.
It’s crucial to find common ground.
What do we do then, when we have none? What happens when we agree on nothing?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since Jan. 6, when thousands of Americans stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session to confirm Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States.
In those Americans’ view, the insurrection was a last-ditch attempt to save democracy.
In others’ views, though, it was the exact opposite — a domestic terror attack designed to undermine, to overthrow, democracy.
Where is the common ground in that?
It may not exist. Right? We can’t always find common ground in our beliefs. But that doesn’t mean we give up. So we have to search more, dig deeper, to find our common denominator, the common ground on which we can find understanding and build relationships.
We have to dig down to find God.
I say “dig down” because He’s covered up in a lot of layers we put on ourselves and others. Political party affiliation. Liberal or conservative. Rural, suburban or metropolitan. The state we live in. The color of our skin. Our gender. Our economic status.
That’s a lot of stuff to pull off. God, though, is always there.
God is the foundation of all humanity. He created everyone, believes in everyone, and has a purpose and plan for every person on earth. Even for the people we don’t like very much, the people we think are crazy. God loves them, too.
Maybe that’s a simple lesson. But our world revolves around conflict, and I find it easy to buy into it. And I have to regularly … very, very often … take myself down a notch or 12.
“God loves them. God thinks they’re incredible. God put them where they are, made them who they are, for a specific purpose, to spread His love and do His work in the world, in a way only they can. Just like he made me.”
In God’s eyes, we’re all the same.
HE’S our common ground.