How to Reach Unity When There Appear to be Two Sides

How to Reach Unity When There Appear to be Two Sides

MAUDE: When I first came to Santa Barbara, over forty years ago, my husband (at the time) and I had the address of only one person to make contact with. We had been given his address because we shared a connection through a spiritual group. He knew very little about us, but he welcomed us and our seven year old son into his house and offered to let us stay with him until we found a place of our own. He was a staunch conservative at the time and we were activist liberals. Yet this never came between us in any way. In fact, it led to many interesting, thoughtful conversations. I have often reflected that if it were not for our shared connection, we would never have had anything to do with each other and would probably never even have met. Yet we have been fast friends for well over forty years now. Our commonality is much stronger than our shifting differences of opinion.

Phil and I have been talking about how people can unify rather than become divided. Coming together takes place through relationships. We are both of the opinion that this is far more natural than the artificial divisions that have been so prevalent in all of our lives in these past years.

We all have far more in common than what appears to divide us. We have in recent blogs addressed some of the ways to realize these basic aspects: looking at similarities rather than differences and coming from love as opposed to fear. We encounter this commonality in our overlapping interests and life activities.

I was thinking about our writing group in this context, a group we have attended for many years, with people entering and leaving, and several remaining through the years. These are people who we have gotten to know through this shared interest who we would probably otherwise have never met. Everyone shares their writing and gets supportive and constructive feedback. Everyone shows kindness and compassion and a desire to support and assist, and through this, we have gotten to know them intimately. I am so grateful for the enrichment of my life that has occurred by having these people in it.

We all have far more in common than what appears to divide us #quote #relationships Click To TweetAt work, we are brought together with people we might otherwise never choose to associate with, and yet we often become close, sharing life’s joys, challenges and tribulations. The same occurs with the neighbors we accrue purely by the happenstance of where we live. And again, some of the deepest friendships can arise from these people we are thrown together with through no choice or bond.

Our common needs for food, shelter, respect, love far outweigh any imagined or momentary lines that divide us. Opposing ideas and thoughts, preferences and ways of expressing ourselves, these are all changing and readjusting as we learn and grow. Our basic connections through our humanity, our value in the world and to each other; these are the realities that unite us in our relationships and through our lives. Let’s emphasize the true values of our commonality and reach greater personal depth by respecting and honoring the unique diversity we each represent. This is the key to spreading peace one relationship at a time.

Phil commented: It’s a bit of a shock to realize that the other side – “them” – is in our circles. It is so easy to think of the other side as essentially alien – thinking and feeling completely differently from us. Yet there are these people we know; interesting, complex, talented. How can we use this small sample of “them” to soften the divisions?

Yet we can’t get to know 100 million people personally; at 10 seconds per person, that would take 30 years. No, the only way to do it it is to tackle our fear of strangers, and you can’t tackle fear by ignoring it – you have to pull it into the light, where it will shrivel up to a size that can be handled.

Pre-pandemic we visited Virginia City where, quite by chance, a 3-day biker rally was taking place. The town was overflowing with Harleys. Thousands of leather-clad bikers were filling up the boardwalks, walking around with open beer cups and spilling onto the street. This was a group we would normally have avoided and would, at the least, be wary of. Much to our surprise, we found the entire group to be totally chill and courteous and in no way hostile or threatening. It was really eye-opening and showed us just how wrong our preconceptions about people can be.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

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6 Comments on “How to Reach Unity When There Appear to be Two Sides

  1. WOW! I loved this line so much! when addressing our fears; “you have to pull it into the light, where it will shrivel up to a size that can be handled.” Thank you Phil, I think that sums it all up . So true that the shadows of our unspoken fears become manageable by adding light. And I appreciate Maude’s tale , illustrating how we happen to find ourselves more connected than separated by our humanity not our opinions!

  2. Thank you. This was a really good read. I very much appreciated it. It encouraged me to reach out to someone who used to be quite close but due to politics became very far away.

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