There Is No Other. There’s Just Us.
At the end of 2016 it seemed the gap between left and right had widened so far that the sides couldn’t even see the other across the chasm.
I started wondering how I could be so blind to people who held different points of view. I realised that I had been thinking about people with different beliefs and worldviews as ‘them’ and ‘those people’.
Jerry Colonna reminds us “There is no other. There’s just us.”
The the person we don’t agree with, don’t understand or don’t relate to…they’re not the “other side”. They are one of us. Just another “broken hearted” person trying to make it through life as best as they can. They are surviving day to day based on the knowledge and the resources they have. They are as scared of failing as you and I, and they are desperately trying to protect the interests of the people they love.
How did come to feel so disconnected from ‘other people’ and how do we turn it around so we can get to the point where we’re all a connected ‘us’?
The media and social media is polarising us. In a world with so many channels of entertainment and information available to us, we (and the algorithms around us) are able to curate a steady source of content that is based on what we’ve consumed and liked. It shows us less of the articles, videos and posts that articulate opinions, beliefs and worldviews that are different to our own.
In the days when I had to choose from five terrestrial tv stations and two local newspapers, my information diet wasn’t as heavily filtered. A lot more of the people around me were seeing the same news and participating in the same conversations.
Today I can be completely oblivious of the shows other people watch, the sites that provide their news and the conversations they are having about what’s important to them.
It’s still sinking in how this is changing the social fabric of our society and how we understand and interact with each other. It’s as though we’re all walking through the world wearing our own personalised VR goggles already.
It’s possible that we can ‘defeat’ the algorithm effect by seeking out information from new sources. By listening to people who have different points of view to our own, asking questions and be willing to adapt our own position when we encounter new (relevant) data.
Let’s reconsider how we look at those people who vote differently*, think differently*, behave differently*. Their way isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s exactly right for someone who has lived the experiences that they have, who was raised the way they were raised, who has the fears and concerns that they do. If you had the same background, you’d most likely act in exactly the same way.
Take those people who challenge your expectations, who defy your conventions and who confuse you…and look at them with love. Show them the love they deserve as fellow humans, moving through each day one step at a time. By leading with love and understanding, you encourage them to do the same – creating the possibility of one more node of genuine connection in the world today.
We don’t all have to agree. We don’t all have to work together. But we do need to find a way to live together.
All of us.
*Ever notice how we encourage “differently” when different is OUR point of view and discourage it when it’s not?