A couple of weeks ago an idea was planted into my head. It’s an idea I feel is very important to share and one that really resonated with me. I was watching a dance video (something I spend hours doing) and the artist of the song, Yasmine Yousaf, said something to the class that really got me thinking. She said, “Right now it’s a really weird time in the world so it’s cool to see a bunch of people to come together and dance, and that is the unifying thing in this room right now, and nobody is thinking about anything crazy that is happening in the world”. As soon as I heard this a revelation took place in my mind. I realized how much we all have in common with each other and how often that is ignored. In these dance videos I watch it’s very common to see a deeply diverse group of people. But when I’m in the moment watching the video, I’m not thinking about how they identify or what color their skin is. I am only watching the creative expression of dance. Our love for dance is the common ground between me and the dancers. It creates a community and a family for all these people. It lets them come together and enjoy one another’s presence and just dance.
This whole idea of common ground got me thinking about why there are so many divides in our society when we have so much in common. So I started watching the people around me and listening to the words that came out of their mouth. I noticed how often people make offhand comments meant to be funny, but actually created a barrier. For instance, when people make a joke talking about an African-American person in a disrespectful way they are automatically creating a barrier between themselves and that black person. That in turn leads to a ripple effect. The barrier you create does not only affect you, but ends up affecting society as a whole by creating a stereotype. When you look all the way back to see why this divide was created in the first place you will find that it was due to someone’s skin color. I mean of all things… you pick a person’s skin color. What could be more superficial than that?
I also feel as though I am starting to get an idea of what these divides feed off of. Take our President for example. Mr. Trump is the leader of our country and sets the tone of our country for the next four years. During the time of the Obama Administration I felt we made so much progress. Our first black President, LGBTQ+ marriage rights, increased support for Veterans, etc. The list goes on and on and that is how it should be. As time goes by, our society should be constantly progressing to bridge the gaps. However, listening to some of the hateful things President Trump has to say I wonder if he is setting the correct tone for our nation.
This is one of the many reasons why finding common ground is that much more important. Just as Yasmine Yousaf said, there are definitely some crazy things happening in our world and the more we can do to band together, the stronger we will become.
Through the course of just these few weeks I have found that finding common ground is not only easy, but exceedingly rewarding. It allows you to meet people you never thought you would meet and learn new things you never thought you would learn. Often times it only requires a few minutes and a simple conversation about what you and the other person are interested in. I will let you know, however, that it’s not always easy to bridge gaps. Sometimes it can feel like there is an entire ocean between you and someone else. Often times this ocean is just created by what society says is “normal”. Who you should and shouldn’t be friends with, who you should and shouldn’t eat lunch with, etc. It can be hard to escape from these boxes we have been confined to. But I promise once you escape there is no going back. You will wonder why you didn’t start seeing with your heart and not your eyes sooner.
Now let’s get real for a moment. I’m not putting this all on you to fix. Many stereotypes and barriers were hard woven into our society way before you were even born. However, what you do to bridge these gaps matters. I know you might feel extremely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of divides in our world, but every little change leads to bigger and better changes in the future. Set an example for the people who come after you. Finding the common ground among your fellow humans is very eye-opening and very healing. I don’t know about you, but when I find out someone is really into something I’m into, it is like we are instantly best friends. Another person to lean on, to laugh with, and to trust. It brings another person into your community and family.
So I challenge you to meet someone new. Say hi to someone you normally wouldn’t and find out what you have in common with them because every little barrier you conquer leads us closer and closer to a more wonderful world. There is always common ground between you and someone new. Sometimes you just have to work a little harder to find it. Comment down below what you do to find common ground and bridge gaps. Remember everything you do to make this world a better place is important.
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Everyone has the power to make the world a better place, use your power wisely.