Building a stronger community by seeking common ground
I don’t know about you, but I am disheartened by the fact that our country is so divided. That we here in the state of Maine, that my neighbors and friends, have such different worldviews and sets of facts that inform our decisions. I’m sad that we continue to label each other to the point of judgment and pre-conceived notions. Our brains seem to be conditioned these days to see the world in black and white. With this in mind, what kind of knee-jerk reaction does this statement provoke?
I am a self-proclaimed Liberal. A Progressive, in fact. Perhaps even a Democratic Socialist. To some of you, I am an elitist snob, an atheist, out of touch with the struggles of the common man, a person who wants and expects the government to solve all the economic and social ills that plague our country, a peace-loving hippie freak that welcomes immigrants with open arms and wants to take away all your guns. To others, I am a passionate warrior of the marginalized in our society, working hard for the underdog, a person who supports the power of government to create a more equal society, a staunch feminist, an anti-war “dove”. The problem is I am so much more than all of this.
I’m pretty sure I have things in common with Conservatives out there. I know I share values with other Christians. I’m confident that I can come together with other parents around education policies. Many of us agree that our current healthcare system is flawed. I think we all want to live in a community and a world that is safe.
I want to take action to heal the divide, but the chasm seems too large. I want to stay engaged, but I don’t want to “fight”. I want to make a difference, but it seems so futile. I am left feeling paralyzed, not knowing quite where to begin.
Why is it so hard for us to come together? Perhaps, we feel that it’s all out of our control. I certainly feel that way sometimes. But maybe we can sow the seeds of change, to make our community a true place of coming together. We don’t have to feel hopeless or helpless. We can look upon each other with love and compassion, and take simple steps, right here in Windham.
Avoid labels: talk about individuals, not stereotypes.
Seek and share facts that matter: stop with the hurtful and angry Facebook memes and avoid fake news.
Mix it up and engage in community activities that bring us together: attend church suppers, hang out at the local playground, volunteer for a community organization.
What are we waiting for? In the words of Howard Zinn: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world”.
Mary Anne Moisan
I would like to relate a story I feel is appropriate at this time, as it relates to the season, and the sacrifice made by our Friend, Jesus. We’ll call it, “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree”.
Once upon a time, the dogwood was as mighty as an oak. Then one day, the Roman authorities decided to use it for the cross of Jesus. Upon learning this, the tree was seized with sorrow. But Jesus sensed the agony of the dogwood timbers over the cruel duty they were forced to perform. And in His great compassion Jesus said: “Because of your sorrow over my suffering, you shall henceforth grow slender, bent and twisted, so that your wood can never again be used as a cross.
And you shall bear blossoms in the shape of a cross. And on them shall appear a crown of thorns and nail prints stained with red, so that all who see them will remember that I carried you to Calvary.