Emphasizing Common Ground

Driving south on the four-lane stretch, an NPR interview with a Middle Eastern-born, American-employed art expert speaks of ancient Christian art being destroyed by ISIS in Syria.

Evidence of antiquities, of the far reaches of human culture and belief, decimated. Erased as if it never existed. And yet we all know it did.

In his interview, he emphasizes how art shows us the commonalities between us. It is a connector, a common ground on which to build bridges toward friendship. We are all the same, you know, and these ancient chapels and murals and statues are evidence of that.

It’s hard to imagine some people believing that if you wipe away the evidence, something ceases to exist. It’s just not possible.

Throughout history we have pilfered and plundered, damaged and destroyed. In Israel, archeologists reveal an earlier version of the Old City of Jerusalem beneath the current city. Conquerors built on top of what was already there. But someday, someone can dig it out and remember a simpler time.

Or an earlier time.

Or just another time.

Because time keeps ticking and we keep reinventing what we thought was revolutionary but you know there are no new stories.

And if there are no new stories, how can we justify our existence? Are we doing the same-old, same-old? If not, what makes us different, better, unique?

These days, I am finding my friendships dwell in the realm of the intellect. I drift toward like-minded souls who ponder the deeper questions of life and who want to talk about what it all means. 

And so at lunch today, we turned over this concept of first world problems and work that improves the world and too much stuff and the very western concepts of depression and attention deficit and boredom.

Too much for your midday meal? Maybe so. But for me, it’s energizing to scrutinize these concepts and find new answers. I am ready to dive in, to find a way to be part of the answer, the resolution.

If people don’t go to church, do you bring the church to them? Or do you let them go, trusting that they know what’s best for them today, this month, this year, in this life?

But if you believe in higher purpose and spiritual messages and salvation, isn’t it your calling to share the stories with everyone who will listen?

I’m not just talking religion, you know. Apply it to whatever you are passionate about, whatever you believe in.

Sometimes we don’t see our true situation. Today, I met with a client who is thrilled with the work we have done on his company’s behalf. Little did I know! My distant perspective was a questioning one, wondering if our work was far-reaching enough, when in fact, it blew all expectations out of the water.

How good to know, how happy to hear. And all that comes from sitting together, face to face, heart to beating heart, an earnest desire to help on both of our agendas.

At lunch, I remarked that all we need is to see all people as if ourselves, with pumping hearts and listening ears and a desire to be loved and valued. Once we see others in this way, I said, these divides must melt away.

My friend replied something about how religions are preaching degradation and hate and advocating for violence and the decks are stacked against peace. We have more terrorism in our world today, she said, than when we marched into Iraq more than a decade ago.

War on terrorism? It’s the terrorism in our hearts that threatens to kill us all.

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