People can find common ground even in times of war

Common Ground for a Common Cause

A difference of opinion, even based upon the same set of facts, is not a personal attack and should not be seen as an offensive affront to a reasonable person. Not “dissing” one another, but “discussin’ without the cussin’” should be the common basis for any reasonable discussion … even one wherein people disagree. These days, it is unfortunately, far too common for people to launch into ad hominem attacks and resort to kindergarten/sandbox exchanges of names and stalking off convinced they were somehow a “winner” in an “argument”.

Short of a complete reformation of the educational system including classes in Problem Solving and Critical Thinking skills and mandatory participation in the debate club, being forced to argue both for and against every concept, finding a little common ground before entering a discussion would go a long ways towards ending the argument before it ever had a chance to begin.

The funny thing about common ground is, it is not that difficult to find when it is what is being sought. Despite popular belief and extremely limited vision and viewpoints, this is even true in the realms of religion, politics, assisting the poor and being better stewards of the environment.

If your position is so insecure and your sense of belief or “faith” is lacking so much (“Faith” is an accurate description of the beliefs of an individual) that even the hint that someone may have a perspective different from yours is perceived by you to be an attack or a threat, it is your beliefs that need to be examined more closely. If you are not prepared to meet someone on common ground for the commencement of actual and meaningful discussion, you are not certainly not prepared to offer viable and meaningful solutions to ANY problems facing the world today.

These days, it seems that a great many people are easily “triggered” even by perceived slights. When it comes to a differing point of view, far too many people are all too quick to label the other person as some kind of “radical” or “denier”, react with an emotionally laden diatribe and walk away feeling morally superior as if they have won some meaningful debate … which is odd considering that their very actions have all but prevented any actual debate … much less resolution from ever taking place in the first place.

Such antics are painfully antithetic to anything even remotely resembling progress, much less the ability to provide meaningful, comprehensive and applicable means to resolve the underlying problems. Indeed, in this case, it seems that the foremost “problem” that needs to be dealt with, is the inability of so many people to engage in a rational and meaningful conversation in the first place.

It is very common for people to look at the same sets of facts and draw different conclusions. Science is not mathematics where one answer or one “proof” serves to resolve the issue for time immemorial. In fairness, even mathematics has seen a great deal of progress made, especially in the realm of quantum mathematics, not because people always agreed or because everyone adhered to the current “consensus”, but because people questioned the very boundaries and limitations of mathematics in its current form and sought to expand and further define and quantify mathematical principles.

Thus, through the discernment of those who refused to be limited by the consensus, and those questioning the “fact” that this is “just the way it is”, an entirely new realm of mathematics was born and quantum math has greatly assisted the “hard” sciences in numerous fields. A prime example of this, for numerous reasons, is the Deep Space Probe.

While the technologies and the math of the Deep Space Prove are based on newer, refined versions of the original math involved, the actual engine is very similar to that of an ancient computer monitor or television, powered by what is known as an ion engine, which in reality, is very similar to the cathode ray tubes that powered the earliest black and white and color television sets. It is a combination of the new and the old. If mathematics has room for such a questioning of such a fixed and well-defined field, how much more so the other sciences and beliefs?

Science progresses, not because people are willing to accept the given consensus on any day, but through a constant questioning and testing of the beliefs held to be true today. If the scientific consensus were so strict, the world would still be perceived to be flat today, airplanes never would have taken flight, the earth would still be considered the center of the universe, the guy who discovered germs and their ability to carry disease would have died in the insane asylum (where the scientists put him as their “consensus” denied the existence of these “invisible”, disease carrying germs) along with his concept that merely washing one’s hands would benefit people and reduce the spread of disease.

If the scientific “consensus” were so strict, we would still be teaching creationism in the schools as a great many “scientists” decried the works of Darwin as blasphemous and contrary to the “scientific consensus”.

There are a great many global issues and crises in the world today that need definitive resolutions. Social injustices, Environmental, Economic and Social (indeed, these collectively would be known as Whole-System or Systemic) Sustainability, Climate Change, Waste Reduction and a host of other issues that literally may determine the fate of all humanity.

Still, there are radicals on both sides of the argument who would immediately end any effort at discussions, merely because someone does not share their exact views. In what may come as a surprise to a depressingly large number of people, your views, like you, are entirely and completely unique … just like everybody else!

(Yes, that is a lighthearted description but think about it for a minute. You are unique, just like everybody else!)

Everyone is unique in their experience, their cognitive thought processing and in their views on the world around them, including within these globally important areas that need to be discussed if they are ever to be fully resolved. Individual prejudices and bias are quite literally everywhere all around us and exhibited by each and every person on a daily basis. One person may hate cars and ride their bicycle everywhere in order to “do their part” to save the planet.

Likewise, this person may take it as a personal affront that those pesky cars are ever allowed to share the same planet with those sane enough to see the destruction caused by vehicles … and feeling in such a way as they do, they may freely exhibit contempt for vehicles and their drivers, thus further dividing the two groups rather than seeking to stick to the bike paths and stay out of the way of vehicles much larger and more powerful.

In such a scenario, not only is there no active discussion, but the contempt of the one leads to contempt by the other and furthering the division is the only viable and realistic end result. Not only have none of the existing problems been resolved, but a host of new problems have been created. While each individual may have their own beliefs about their preferred method, there is always common ground. All of the people in this scenario are likely trying to move from one point to another point regardless of the reason why.

Thus, a discussion allowing for the ability of each to travel more freely to their destinations would result in a mutual understanding as they both have found common ground to enter into a discussion. While this scenario is small when compared to the more important areas that directly (and detrimentally) impact people all across the world, it should serve as a prime example of the problems being faced today.

This problem is further exhibited in the hard sciences such as Global Climate Change, which remains as much of an art as a science, despite any supposed “consensus”. There are those that would deny climate change altogether and that is so far beyond foolish that it is difficult to even know how to acknowledge such a comment.

We have a climate. It has been changing for as long as it has been in existence. The climate was changing long before mankind evolved or was created and will exist long after mankind has ceased to exist as a species. Mars has never, in accordance with most common beliefs, been populated by humanity, yet it has a climate, albeit a climate that is very limited in scope and nature. Oddly enough, the climate change on Mars has roughly paralleled the climate change on our earth.

The mountains, valleys and glaciers in the Bay of Alaska are evidence of extended periods of cooling and warming on the earth for … as far back as science can “see”. The mountains and valleys have been formed over millions if not billions of years and an unknown number of cycles of thawing and freezing of the glaciers in and around the Bay of Alaska. This led a number of Russian and Nordic universities to conduct further research that strongly points to the fact that as ice floes decrease in portions of the world, they increase in other portions. It is easy for some people to believe that the contributions of mankind with adding roughly thirteen percent of the forty parts per million of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere, that mankind is directly, wholly and solely responsible for the current changes in climate.

Any evidence to the contrary, including the addition of the two primary causes of climate change are met with more than just scorn or contempt, but with emotional reactions that only serve to divide the parties and drive them even further apart. No discussion will ever take place under such circumstances, much less lead to any resolutions that will benefit humanity no matter how the climate may ultimately react.

The last time I checked, I could not find anyone that wanted to suck on a vehicle exhaust pipe every time they took a breath, nor have I ever met anyone who wanted to drink brackish water or bathe in sewage effluent.

There is a vast swathe of common ground that could easily be approached by both sides were they to look for a common ground and begin a meaningful and comprehensive discussion of the facts, even if the conclusions they draw from those facts was radically different. The same holds true in matters of religion and science. There are numerous examples of science and the Bible in support of one another, yet here perhaps more than in any other area, there are radicals on both sides who seek out everything they can find to separate the twain and to force the issues apart rather than seeking out the common ground.

There are those who would insist a religion based on the acts of a few radicals within certain sects of that religion, while they would readily condemn and entire religion based on the actions of the members of a single, radical church within that religion … (I will not mention the Westboro Baptist Church by name in order to avoid offending them for fear they may chop off my head or toss me off of a building however)

I challenge anyone to pick any divisive topics wherein there is not some common ground between the two sides to the issue to be found. If you cannot find any common ground, pass it off to someone who does not care about the issue one way or another, and allow them to look for the common areas. Chances are that they will be easily discovered by anyone whose ideas and beliefs are not jaded and/or filled with personal prejudice and bias.

At the end of the day, the problem is not that some have drawn different conclusions from the same sets of facts, it is that the people are not prepared to deal with anyone who believes that a difference in opinion is a personal attack on them as an individual or more likely, as part of whatever group or “cause du jour” they are actively participating with at that particular point in time.

The very idea that differing opinions are seen as personal attacks, sometimes worthy of violent and even a deadly response should be beyond frightening and should enrage that portion of the population that remains cognitively aware.

If the very sight of a Cross, a Menorah or a Crescent is so threatening to your beliefs that it compels you to seek out a “safe space” where you can hide from the reality of the world we live in, it is not the cross or menorah or crescent that scares you so much as it is your inability to cope with differing opinions.

If the fact that someone has a different view point than you on any subject causes you to react violently, or causes you to seek to have them silenced merely because you do not agree, you are part of the problem and will never have the capacity to become part of the solution until you change your way of thinking!


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I am an author with nearly fifty years of published writing, though most of my writing in the past 20 years has been for governments, non-governmental agencies, and other groups working towards sustainable development in a more meaningful fashion.

Realistic Approaches to Sustainable Development
Realistic Approaches to Sustainable Development

Sustainability has become little more than a catch phrase these days, designed to be used as a marketing tool to increase sales. Corporate Social Responsibility has become a means to fund radical ideologies ripping the fibers from our social fabric and sowing discord and social unrest. Meanwhile, our self-professed leaders have dropped any pretense of being public servants, and merely seek to promote their corporate donors while largely ignoring the will of the people. Welcome to the brave new world!

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