Finding our Common Ground – More than Just a Nice Idea

First off, I want to sincerely thank my friend and Purple Ground blog host Jamie Rudolph for inviting me to join her page for periodic posts.  I so completely support her motivations for these discussions. Political discussion has become rigid and beyond partisan — no one is happy with a political system that is paralyzed by anger, fear and inflexible ideology.  Our country is built on the idea that a healthy discourse is crucial to a free democracy.

That’s why finding common ground in political discourse is so important. Jamie and I stand on opposite sides of the political divide.  We have significant philosophical differences on some issues, but we share the conviction that the best decisions for America will come from people willing to listen and understand each other‘s perspectives.  Working toward building consensus, agreement and compromise is how our founding fathers always intended these United States of America to be governed.

So right off the bat, here’s some common ground we can all agree on: Regardless of ideology, we all want our elected officials to govern the United States of America on our behalf.  The voice of the people through elected representation.

But to do this requires active interpersonal communication. Our electeds must do what the rest of us do every day: Figure out how to get along and live/work together! Most of us do a pretty good job of treating one another with courtesy and respect, and basically try to be good humans. You learn pretty quickly in life that it’s best to try and get along with one another.  In the world of our lawmakers, we hope that those we elect have this idea down as well.

So when dealing with contentious issues, it’s a good idea to take time to first appreciate what you can agree on. Take some time before jumping into debate to first acknowledge that you and your rival might have some core objectives in common. Why? Because it reminds you that we’re all in this together – it’s not “us” and “them.”

Look at sports. In those moments before the game when we’re singing the National Anthem, one of the reasons it feels so good is because we’re acknowledging our common ground.  No matter who we’re rooting for, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder as proud Americans, appreciating the thrill and beauty of the sport, the spectacle of entertainment, and the communal feeling of thousands of fans sharing an experience. A few minutes later, we will be carried away with the competition, cursing at the obnoxious fan in the next row, but during the Anthem, we are all in it together.

So if we expect our politicians to find room for intelligent discourse, we can start by showing them we can do it ourselves.  We can lower the intensity of the rhetoric a bit, take an edge off the angry partisanship, and even try to find the joy in what we have in common, what we share.  In the coming months, I look forward to discovering our Purple Ground.

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About Chris Perez

Business counselor and educator
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5 Responses to Finding our Common Ground – More than Just a Nice Idea

  1. Ernie Sickenberger says:

    I enjoyed reading this posting…..it was highly informative and logical.

    Jamie, GOOD MOVE adding C. Perez to this pursuit. It is good and highly worthwhile to hear an issue from different perspectives.
    To make it better, perhaps each of you could do a posting on the SAME ISSUE, but from opposing viewpoints. Let the reader make his/her own decision about the issue in question. (I’m NOT attempting to make your job HARDER, ONLY BETTER and more informative to the reader). My education is in Entrepreneur Studies, as you well know. As an Entrepreneur, you ALWAYS want to find ways to improve the product while increasing the value to the final consumer.

  2. Jeanne Guzman says:

    I am so proud of Jamie for going down the road of “Common Ground”. To listen to the talking heads, you would not think there was any!. Both sides lead you to believe that the other is either stupid (left about the right) or unpatriotic (right about the left). When in fact neither is true. My husband and I certainly don’t agree on everything. But we can have a great conversation and then totally understand why the other one reached the conclusions they did and YES sometimes even change our own minds based on that conversation. I sure wish this idea of a civilized debate would become sooo popular that they would hear about it in Washington! (Or Sacramento for that matter) Thank you to Jamie and Chris and anyone else willing to take the time to participate. We all can make a difference!

  3. Judy Larsen says:

    Good job, Jamie, for sticking with the Purple Ground until thinking people get the picture, and take the time to express their ideas on your blog. I like what Chris Perez had to say about intelligent and respectful discourse. We need more of that in our country on every level. And we need to hold our elected representative’s feet to the fire when they deviate from this standard. If Chris is up for the job, I, too, would like to see a good, healthy debate / discussion on several issues, as suggested by Ernie Sickenberger. We all need to hear from both sides via a clam and respectful discussion. Thanks, Chris and Jamie, for letting us see that it CAN BE DONE.

    • The goal will be for the authors to discuss areas that they think are common ground. Then we all can have respectful discourse on any points or disagreement or divergimg ideas in the details. Class participation required. I don’t want it to just be Chris and I debating issues, I want us to look for the purple ground as a starting point and then have comments and dialog on where we go from there. Everyone reading this blog plays a role in the dialog. Thank you for reading and for your feedback.

  4. Pingback: Waiting for Education Reform | Where Red and Blue Americans Find Common Ground

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