It’s time to focus on what unites us

It’s time to focus on what unites us

THE ISSUE: We live in an era where sharp divisions are creating an unbreachable chasm.

OUR VIEW: Common ground must be established if we are to move forward.

Everyone seems to be at odds over something these days. Clashing political views, religious views, social views — the issues are endless. With social media’s foothold on much of the information we get and how we interact with each other, it seems necessary to consider how our “beliefs” align with our actions.

It’s very easy to stand a hard line from a distance; however, optics aside, it’s easy for those hard lines to become blurred when they are under one’s nose. Between the positions of what’s definitely right and what’s definitely wrong lies a vast, muddled plane where people try very hard to do the best they can with what they have. It’s a place where most people stand.

It’s been said that if you really want to know a person, pay attention to their actions more so than their words. This is true.

We’re living in an era where lots of words are thrown around and it’s very easy to make assumptions about someone simply by what they say or by what they post on social media. Realistically, though, we believe most people are more moderate than they may seem.

For example, most people who tend to lean more liberal really don’t have a problem with responsible gun owners. They understand it’s only a small percentage of gun owners who use their weapons irresponsibly or criminally. They just want more precautions to be taken to keep innocent people safe.

We also believe that most conservatives don’t want to keep healthcare out of reach from those who are not insured. They believe the costs associated with insuring everyone are too great and may put the price of health insurance for their families out of reach, thereby exacerbating the problem.

The nationwide strife that we’re experiencing overshadows what we all experience on the local level. In some instances, there is more division among those serving on our local city councils, school boards, boards of trustees and county boards, not to mention in state elected positions. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find knowledgeable people to serve in such positions because of the stress level that goes along with it. As a result, things move more slowly and more money is spent as each side tries to persuade other council/board members to support their ideas.

If we continue to view those with varying beliefs as extremists, we will never come together. While it’s true people at the fringes of any issue tend to be louder and more demanding and, therefore, get the most attention, most people are somewhere in the middle and can understand the point of view of those on the other side of the aisle. 

In any era, it’s nearly impossible for great leaps to occur in short periods of time when it comes to social/political change. To demand change overnight is foolhardy. Personal agendas must be put aside in order to find common ground, which is necessary if we are to move forward.

Our hope for 2019 is that each of us does a better job of ignoring what divides us and focusing on our commonality first. It’s not going to be easy, but the quality of our future depends on it.