Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

 

Many people who write about such things are opining that as a nation, we are more divided than ever before, with the possible exception of the Civil War era.

It seems that way to me as well. And it’s causing some real problems. It also seems like a lot of people are starting to get tired of it.

But how could we possibly resolve our differences? We are not ever going to all agree, nor should we. But there are two things we can do to get back to at least tolerating each other, and behaving with honor and integrity and civility rather than with anger and distrust and close-minded resentment.

Step one: compassion. A video popped up on my Facebook feed titled “The Importance of Empathy.” Critical to getting along with each other—even if we don’t see eye to eye—is our level of empathy, which actually can be improved with practice. Here’s how:
Be observant of others. It starts by putting down our devices and noticing each other. Watch people, and wonder about them without making judgments. Be curious.

Practice active listening. Too often we decide what our response will be without fully listening to what the other person is saying. We think we already know the other person’s position. We engage in a sort of verbal combat. It’s much better to stay fully focused on what the other person is actually saying. Pause. Ask questions to really clarify. Then think about how to respond. We don’t have to agree with each other, but at least we can try to understand and acknowledge each other’s point of view. And if we’re really open-minded, we might even allow one another’s ideas to more fully expand our own understanding.

Share. Equally important to listening to another person’s experiences and opinions, is opening up and sharing our own feelings and views. This can be scary because we don’t know how we’ll be received. But empathy is a two-way street. Both parties must share openly in order to discover commonalities.

Keeping an open mind is the best way to avoid the prejudicial classifying of people who disagree with us as “others.” When we experience a divide between ourselves and people who are different from us (liberal vs. conservative, for example), we cut ourselves off from a rich, shared experience. We really do have more in common than not!

Step two: service. Doing something helpful without expecting anything in return is perhaps the ultimate way to build goodwill and bridge the divide.

In addition to the “typical” volunteer opportunities that might be too time consuming, consider how even small things can have a big impact. One author has some unique and simple suggestions, such as:

inviting someone who needs help getting enough exercise to go on a walk with us
sharing flowers or veggies from our garden
offering to babysit or walk a pet for someone who needs assistance
donate pet food to a local animal shelter, or diapers to a women’s shelter, or donate blood
being open to learning a new language (in our area, American Sign Language for example) so that we can get to know more people, and be in a position to understand if anyone needs help while we’re out and about.

The point is, there are many ways to lift people up and beautify the world. This author suggests that when we do our morning meditation, we ask ourselves what can we do to be of service today? It doesn’t take much! How much better off would we be if each of us picked up at least one piece of litter each day? Or tossed wildflower seeds into a blighted vacant lot? Or smiled and offered a compliment to a stranger who seemed sad.

Maybe this is how we heal our country right now. We get to know each other a little better, and be willing to give of ourselves.

Sources:
https://lifehacker.com/the-importance-of-empathy-in-everyday-life-1791961488

http://dailyom.com/cgi-bin/display/articledisplay.cgi?aid=58605

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on June 28, 2017

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