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Be The Bridge

Creative Commons photo by Dav Yaginuma via Flickr

Creative Commons photo by Dav Yaginuma via Flickr

Seems to me society and politics in the United States has become too polarized, no thanks to the talking heads on TV, the ranting voices on radio and the money that supports them. Too many of us get our “news” in predigested sound bites. In the pursuit of ratings, I believe controversy is intentionally fanned by the media. Outrageous things are said. Commentators seem almost disappointed when diplomacy seems to be working – when people are finding agreement to work together for the common good.

Even when news sources such as PBS Newshour makes conscious efforts to air opposing positions, too often we just get “talking points” from politicians, which does little to sway viewers to revise their already entrenched point of view. All it generates is disgust. Too much drama at the expense of us citizens!

I love it when Shields and Brooks, whom I admire for their congenial, thoughtful responses, acknowledge that they agree on certain points.

Locally, in Shasta County, it is my observation that people tend to group with others (in churches, business owner groups, political activists, social clubs, service clubs, age-sorted gatherings, etc.) who share their same perspective.

When someone starts on a rant, it is often more expedient to try to change the subject rather than argue. Even a benign “I know many others who don’t share that view” does not seem to help.

Perhaps the calling of the newly forming A Beloved Community movement is to ‘be the bridge”, by intentionally engaging others outside one’s existing sphere of influence to find positive things we can agree upon and work together on and accomplish locally: i.e. better employment opportunities; education; healthy lifestyles; mental health; downtown renewal; connectivity…?

Real dialogue. Real achievements toward the common good.

Some observers have said that fundamentalism (whether it be religious, social or political) is the greatest threat we now face as a society.

It is hard to have dialogue when somebody else is not listening, so this process of “being the bridge” will take saintly patience as we consciously seek out those who are more difficult to engage than our close friends.

Start by #mappingconnections to see our own cluster of connections and then find ways to extend those circles wider.

Perhaps we should start our focus in the neighborhoods where we live. Surely we can find some common good beyond mere safety and security.

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