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The problem with continually trying to numb yourself to pain is that you eventually lose the capacity to feel anything, other than the steadily growing anxiety that your next step might hurt.

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Common Ground

I grew up in a military family, normally living on Air Force bases with other military families. After high school, I joined the Navy, and for another decade lived/worked amongst people with differing backgrounds, diverse ethnicity, and varying belief systems.  The military made little allowance for our differences; once you donned the uniform you were expected to work together toward the greater mission.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but this dramatically affected my understanding of community and family.  Even decades later, I still have many friends (and family) who don’t necessarily believe the things that I believe.  They grew up differently than I did, their life experience has led them to draw different conclusions than I have, and ultimately they view the world through a different lens than I do.  To me, this is not only how it’s always been, but also how it ought to be.  This doesn’t mean that we have nothing in common.  They love their families, value their communities, and hope to live in peace, just as I do.  I find my life is enriched, and my understanding is expanded, by remaining engaged with people who don’t necessarily think, act and live like I do.  Thus, I continue to seek the common ground that we all share.

 

When social media platforms like Facebook emerged, I found them to be a great way to stay connected, especially with friends and family who are literally spread all over the world. At its best, it has allowed us to remain connected in ways we couldn’t have otherwise.  No doubt, I want to celebrate their joys with them, and pray for them when they’re in a struggle, and to honor them when they’re gone.  But these days there seems to be a lot of pressure to use social media (and every other available platform) as a bully pulpit, where we exalt our preferences, ridicule those who have a differing point of view, and dare people to “Unfriend” us if they don’t like what we have to say.  People who refuse to participate in this battle of angry rhetoric are increasingly being criticized for not taking a side, accused of remaining “neutral” on the important issues of the day, and even being compared to those who stood by in Nazi Germany, doing nothing to stop the Holocaust.  As it goes with all the other points of view floating around cyberspace, they’re entitled to their opinion, and they’re also entitled to express it, but I don’t find their arguments compelling.

 

I believe that finding and cultivating the common ground that we share makes for stronger and more united communities. Building and strengthening these bonds of community is an essential first step in addressing the larger social issues we face.  Standing on opposite sides of the street, throwing rocks at each other isn’t going to achieve anything other than our eventual destruction.  I’m not sure what people think their vitriol achieves, but if posting an angry meme on social media is the extent of one’s activism, they’ve not done much.  Getting a bunch of folks, who already agreed with you, to “Like” your post doesn’t really effect change. If there is genuine oppression, it’s going to cost a lot more than some heated words to stand up to it.  If we are successful in alienating everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like we do, we’ll have simply set the stage for civil war.  If we want to better understand the issues, we need to engage in meaningful dialogue with people of diverse viewpoints.  If we want to battle racism, we need to engage in meaningful relationships with people of other races.  If we want to battle poverty, we need to engage in the process of creating opportunities or providing aid to the underprivileged…  If we were that committed to change, we’d probably be too busy to spend so much time on Facebook.

It’s a dangerous thing to mistake imagination for intuition.

The only person that can keep you from becoming who you were created to be is the person you choose to be instead.

 

If we could esteem other people’s needs above our own (Phil 2:3), we’d probably be too busy to be bored.  If we would fill our minds with things that are noble, just, pure, and lovely (Phil 4:8), we’d likely be too encouraged to fall into bitterness or offense.  If we could fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, (Heb 12:2), we might become too hopeful to fall into despair.

 

When we praise the Lord, we are acknowledging what He has done in the past, what He is doing today, and what He’s going to do in the future,  We are recognizing His influence on our lives, bowing to His will, and submitting to His authority.  There can be great power in those times, and a tangible sense of connection between the spiritual and natural realms.  Unfortunately, when we indulge in self-pity, we are doing the exact same thing for our adversary.  In such moments our struggles are magnified beyond reality, and our view of God’s provision becomes eclipsed. 

 

As parents, we can push our kids toward who we want them to be, or we can help them to discover who they were created to be.