Over the past year, we’ve gotten used to having conversations about how disjointed America is, how split apart we’ve become, and how deep the divide is between us. There was a time not that long ago where we could be friends with people who thought differently than we do and have civil conversations about the things we disagree on. Total alignment was not a requirement for friendship. In fact, my experience has been that I have learned the most in life from people who think differently than I do. Today, we’ve closed the door on those challenging conversations. It’s much easier to surround ourselves with people just like us.

To be my friend, we have to agree on everything. 

If not, I’m taking my ball and going home.

This past election amplified the division in our world. You’re red or blue, a Republican or a Democrat, for her or against him. Words like “freedom” and “patriot” are no longer defined the way we remember. Coming off of the recent elections, the gap has only increased. The divide has gotten more expansive, and we’re being pulled further apart from one another. We’re not united, we’re untied… as in, we are untying the bonds that have held us together in community as Americans. 

“I’m done with you.”

The pandemic has increased the division as well. Within my own circles, the range of opinions on the danger of COVID-19 spans wide. Some fear COVID, and others don’t. Some have made radical adjustments to how they live life, and others are pushing back to hold onto some version of the life we all remember. Some have embraced masks, and others think they should be reserved for Halloween. Honesty, I fall somewhere in the middle of all of you. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, I’ve watched the “my side or your side” mentality create dangerous splits. 

“Oh, you’re one of “those” people.” 

When will we get to the point where we can meet people where they’re at and respect them for who they are, not what they believe. I get it. I know the two are intertwined, and some things are non-negotiable. Some things are black and white, like racism. It’s sinister. If you are a racist, then you and I are not going to get along. Done.

The problem is this. Most things in life aren’t that black and white. Frankly, when we take sides as strongly as we have been lately, we walk a dangerous line. Just like the white supremacists who hate others because they’re different, we start to fall into that same trap.

That is not a world I want to live in.

I want to be able to go to a brewery in the near future and share pints with a group of friends from different backgrounds. I want to have challenging conversations where we listen to each other and poke holes in what’s being shared, but don’t poke holes in each other. There is a difference.

I want to hear you say something that I disagree with, and instead of immediately getting defensive, I want to ask questions and then listen. I want to differ with you and not attack, but simply enjoy your company. I want to acknowledge that we’re not the same in all things, but we’re more alike than different at the end of the day. You like IPAs, and I like stouts… and that’s OK.

This life is too short to spend it segregated, subdivided, and split… and the only way to repair this is one conversation at a time.

The Takeaway

Get out of your bubble, find someone that you know thinks differently than you do, and talk to them. Just talk. Have a civilized conversation, get real, and disagree respectfully. Challenge yourself to keep your defenses down and your curiosity up. Go into it, not looking to convince someone else or keep yourself from being convinced, but rather to just share without becoming outraged and offended. Meet people where they’re at and love them for who they are, not for being a mirror image of yourself. 

True depth in our lives requires conversations and learning from each other. Subscribe here for more insights and challenges like this one, and together, we will fix this…