Maybe We’re Not So Different After All?

Maybe We're Not So Different After All_
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Everyone is talking about division these days.

There is more division than ever, they say.

And maybe they are correct, but is that because we truly are divided? Or have we been falsely led to believe that we share different goals?

I don’t like to talk about politics on this site, but there is one particular issue that I think about a lot. I think about it because it sparks wildly divergent opinions and division, while I see only shared values.

It is an incredibly divisive issue here in the United States with people staking claims on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. There is a gulf between their stances.

That issue is the second amendment.

The right to bear arms.

This strikes me as the perfect example of how, in our differences, we find out how similar we actually are.

And if we can hone in on those similarities, perhaps we can eliminate some of the nastiness and division we experience in our society.

So what exactly is so similar about the different positions in the gun control debate?

We all want the same thing:

No deaths and no violence.


Of course. Everybody wants that (whether you believed that before right now or not).

That is the premise that we all share, yet we never discuss.

What instead do we focus on?

Our differing conclusions on how to achieve our shared goal.

Listening to the debate, you could easily forget that we all have largely the same heart toward the issue.

No violence.

Some people believe that by banning guns (at least to a degree) gun violence will naturally decrease.

That reasoning is understandable.

Others believe that by having guns in the hands of non-violent people, there is a deterrent to violence that might not otherwise exist.

That reasoning is also understandable.

What we have here are two opposite ends of the spectrum, but with a shared desire.

No deaths. No violence.

Yet this desire that is shared, our heart, is never focused on. Instead, only our differences get time in the spotlight.

Now, mind you, these differences are important.

But if we are able to understand that we are all brothers and sisters with the same heart and the same goal, we can at least understand and respect each other.

And if we cannot do that, we cannot reach a pragmatic, evidence-based conclusion that is free of bias.

Instead, what we have is a “civil war” between people who are actually on the same team.

Teammates fighting each other.

It’s not supposed to be that way.

Think about almost any issue that is being debated today and see if you can find the shared values.

Can you spot the similarities in the desires of those on both sides of the argument?

If you can, you can start to see the humanity in your “opponents”.

Maybe you can begin to realize that perhaps they are not your opponents after all.

They are all your teammates who want the same things as you, but have been exposed to different ideas on how to get there.

That’s an important point so I will repeat it.

They are all your teammates who want the same things as you, but have been exposed to different ideas on how to get there.

Think about that for a moment.

How can we share the same goals and be so wildly different in our approaches?

Here’s some food for thought.

What percentage of current conservatives grew up in conservative households?

What percentage of current liberals grew up in liberal households?

If you had to guess, you’d have to guess a pretty high percentage and you would be right.

What does that tell you?

Does it tell you that people are open-minded and practical, take in information dispassionately, and then make logical decisions?

Or does it tell you that people are (initially) a product of their environments and the information they are provided, behaving consistently with those influences?

If you are a conservative in a conservative household, or a liberal in a liberal household, would you still be conservative or liberal if you grew up in the opposite house?

Probably not. At least not at first.

It helps to become aware of just how much you are a product of your environment and the information you are exposed to.

Once you do, you begin to understand where others come from. They are often just like you and share your goals, but have been produced by a different environment.

If you were in their shoes, the chances are pretty good you’d think a lot like they do!

So before you judge someone who came from a different background as you, or consumes different news than you, remember that they are acting completely consistently with the “truths” available to them.

Just like you.

Can we break out of the mold?

Some of us, as we mature, begin to challenge our own beliefs. We realize we’ve been programmed over the years (not necessarily maliciously) and are more interested in truth than dogma.

So we expose ourselves to new ideas. Challenge our held assumptions. Prove or disprove our held theories.

This is the fork in the road that some of us see and others do not.

This is the real source of our division.

The thing about this is, it takes time to recognize that fork in the road and choose to make that turn.

We’re all wired the same. We like things that confirm our world view.

To a huge degree, we are the result of our programming and it takes time and effort to break out of that.

If it’s necessary.

Sometimes our initial beliefs hold up. Sometimes they don’t.

Either way is okay.

The point is this:

Not only are we consistent products of our environments, just as our “opponents”, we almost always share a similar premise on the issues regardless.

Where we differ is the conclusion, which is almost always due to the environment and information we have been exposed to.

Which should inspire us to choose the right fork in the road.

If we can admit to ourselves that we are not really different from our “opponents”, that at our heart we are largely the same, and that our held beliefs are the product of our environments and information available to us rather than superior moral character that dehumanizes others…

We can then create bridges between us, open our minds to pragmatic, objective truths rather than ideology, come up with objective conclusions, and heal the division, which is perceived only.

That division is created solely by the quality of the information presented to us, along with our desire (or lack thereof) to challenge our biases.

So if you really want an opponent, you have one.

Your true opponent is lack of quality, objective information along with a lack of desire to be objective ourselves. This is our shared opponent.

If you want to fight that opponent?

Challenge yourself. Be objective and discerning. Put information sources to the test and promote the objective best.

And the next time you are inclined to think of a person as an opponent, perhaps think of them as they really are.

Someone with many shared values, but who comes from a different world with different information.

That is where we are different.

At our core?

We might not be so different after all.

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  1. Pursuit of Great

    Thank you Molly! 🙏

  2. Thank you for this, it really seems easy but it’s people’s mindsets that have to change. We’re definitely not so different but mentally it’s hard.

  3. Pursuit of Great

    Yes, it is certainly so much easier said than done! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I have to disagree with your original theory a bit – I think there are a lot of people who are all in for death and violence, especially if they get to be the cause of it.

    To claim that all people have the same values or shared goals is wildly unrealistic and frankly, wrong.

  5. Pursuit of Great

    Hi Roze, thanks for checking out the article!

    To be clear, the point of this article is not to say that literally “all” people are the same. There is of course a small group of evil people who are in for death and violence. However, that group is infinitesimally small. This article is meant to address the bulk of the population, the people we interact with on a daily basis, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. They are the focus of this article and, in my opinion, should be our focus as well as they are the ones we can and should be building bridges with.

    Thanks for reading and your comment!

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