New Year’s wish for 2017: I hope your find your hope
I know that sounds like an odd headline after eight years of one president’s version of hope and in comparing that to the coming four years of the next president’s version of hope. But that’s the problem of putting our hope in other humans. I’m here to tell you it’s wrong if you rely on someone else to provide you with your version of hope, especially if that person is elected.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have hope in other human beings. Quite the opposite. We absolutely should look for the hope and the good and, most important, the commonality we share with others as ways to make our lives better in coming years. I think you’ll find if you take the time to talk to others about your hopes and dreams and listen to their hopes and dreams, you’ll discover the simplest and most powerful of things in life: We’re a lot more alike in just about every way than we’ve imagined — or that others we elect and put hope in would like.
That’s because fighting over our differences gives those folks power.
Too many in our world would rather have someone elected or in charge make laws to force others to think as they do rather than take the time to actually sit down with someone who thinks differently and talk about why and how they’ve come to think as they do. It’s really not as difficult as our dividers would lead us believe.
I wrote a column not too long ago about finding time for others who think differently and have a conversation. Well, I went to lunch with a friend whose thinking couldn’t be more opposite than mine when it comes to social and political issues. Sounds like a set up for disaster, no? Well I’m here to say it was anything but. What came about was a respectful conversation related to our hopes, dreams and fears about where our country and society could be headed.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of the conversation, or should I say visit, with a good friend. But I will tell you that if there’s a hot-button issue on your mind about what two polar opposite people could go toe to toe on in a knock-down, drag-out fight, I assure you we covered it. And neither of us were bloodier or bruised as a result. As a matter of fact, it was the exact opposite. From this lunch came a new respect of how we feel the way we feel and why we think the way we do.
And isn’t that how it should be?
I realize there are folks who will never, ever discuss one-on-one many topics in a mature, reasonable manner. Trust me, I’m reminded of this on Facebook and in my e-mails nearly every day. And for those select few, maybe sitting down is out of the realm of possibility today. But does that mean everyone who thinks differently than you or I do is off limits? Certainly not.
Look at it this way. Do you really think everyone you do business with, interact with socially, go to church with or everyone in general thinks the same as you do on every issue and about everything? Of course not. Besides, what’s the fun in that? I can assure you that 100 percent of the people you know are different from you. And maybe that’s the place to start.
You see, we’ve given too much power to folks we elect or put in charge to decide what’s best to think, to tell others how to think or, in the worst case, to do our thinking for us. The fact is, your right to think the way you do is guaranteed in the Constitution. The only limitation on how you think is that it can’t violate the rights of others or be forced on them by law or tyranny.
So why do we exert so much energy in giving away or acquiescing that right to others when we should be sharing how we think and feel with friends and family or anyone willing to have an open, respectful conversation?
That’s what I did. And yes, I had more than a few concerns going into my lunch. But you know whose concerns those really were? Those were the concerns of the people who’d rather drive wedges or have politics and the laws of man keep us apart with irreconcilable differences then to have us come together in love and respect to help one another. If you can’t figure out who those are who’d rather have us split by an ever-widening gap, just watch and read what’s in the headlines and open your eyes to see who makes any of those topics a non-starter in conversation. There are few non-starters in life, unless they’re in denying rights or criminality.
Find some folks to talk to respectfully in the coming year and you’ll be amazed. You’ll provide a way for people to be heard who believe they aren’t. You’ll make friends. You’ll realize we all have so much more in common than we’re told to believe.
And it is my hope you find hope in that.