“Let’s Be Enemies”

When I was in junior high, my parents moved from a small town where I had lived since birth, to a larger town very different in character from the one from which I moved.  I struggled through eighth grade to find a place for myself.  In ninth grade, I sometimes had a group of four friends. Sometimes I had two sets of friends when the four would split up in petty arguments.  My favor would be sought by each side, encouraging me to support their “side” of the disagreement.  I sometimes attempted to be peacemaker.  More often, I sat it out on the sidelines, as they were not very receptive to my efforts.  I could hardly believe they could so easily find cause for dissension.     

              Years ago, when my daughter was small, I acquired a battered little book called Let’s Be Enemies.  I think a friend whose children were older passed it on to me.  Ironically, it did indeed look like a couple of “enemies” had used it to bash each other.  The book told the story of two little boys who got into some conflict and swore never to be friends anymore.  Yet in a very short time, they discovered their friendship was more important than their disagreement. 

              As I contemplate the world today, I long for people to see their differences as less important than their commonalities, their self-interests in the context of mutual cooperation for the greater good.  I came across an interesting article on the site “How to Heal Our Divides” by David McRaney,  which addresses the author’s questions of:  Why do we argue? What purpose does it serve? Is all this bickering online helping or hurting us?

              McRaney invited famed cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier, an expert on human reasoning and argumentation to be a guest on his show.  Mercier explained that we evolved to reach consensus.  “Groups that did a better job of reaching consensus, by both producing and evaluating arguments, were better at reaching communal goals and out-survived those that didn’t,” Mercier reported. 

              Consensus seems predicated on the willingness to listen to others and also to taking time to educate oneself on the issues, two characteristics that seem sadly lacking.  Critical thinking is in short supply, a matter for another blog!

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  “But just as they did in Philadelphia when they were writing the constitution, sooner or later, you’ve got to compromise. You’ve got to start making the compromises that arrive at a consensus and move the country forward.”

Colin Powell

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