Today’s world seems to be marked by deeper and wider rifts than ever. In my short lifetime, it’s worse than I have ever seen it.
As a kid, I remember the Vietnamese and Russians being our mortal enemies. They were a world apart from my suburban existence, so I never thought that much about them.
Nowadays, Republicans are mortal enemies of Democrats — and vice-versa. European nationalists are sometimes not on speaking terms with their Muslim neighbors.
What can be done about this?
An even better question is, what can I do about it?
Here are a few ideas to help build bridges and not fences. (And please feel free to voice your own ideas in the comments section.)
- Think of someone that you see each week who you’d not normally talk with. Strike up a conversation by asking a simple question. “What has been the best part of your day so far?”
- There’s a person who you see every week who believes differently than you do about something that’s important to both of you. In a very nice way, ask them, “What influenced your decision to think that way?”
- You see that person who makes your blood boil again. (Let’s call them, “Adolph.”) Think of something about Adolph that is amazingly good. If you can’t do that, talk with someone you respect who knows Adolph well. Ask that respected friend to share one awesome thing about Adolph. Then think about that thing the next time you see Adolph. Go so far as to say, “Adolph, I heard from [respected friend] about your ability to [do something amazing]. Tell me more about that!”
- Think about that thing someone does that drives you crazy. Think about why they do that. Their reason might make total sense.
- Think about what you do that might drive others crazy. Stop doing it.