Whether it is for school, family, or work, people like to get together to see how friends and loved ones are doing. As well as to relive past glories and experiences. Have you been to a reunion of some sort? Do you intend to go to one in the future?
As our society becomes more polarized, finding common ground can be difficult. For two people bitterly divided, how can they bridge the gap between them?
At times, it can feel like there is more dividing us than there is uniting us. Whether it is politics, religion, gender, age, income, skin color, or any number of other differences, the distance between two people can seem like a chasm.
And yet, there is a need for two people to bridge that distance and talk, no matter how far apart they might be. Doing so might be necessary to build a working relationship at a job. It might mean a harmonious atmosphere at a family dinner table. It may even lead to a political committee with adversaries accomplishing meaningful change.
Of course, finding common ground is easier said than done. What are the elements necessary for two people who disagree, perhaps even strongly, to build a bridge between their two viewpoints? Particularly if the environment they are in encourages or rewards polarization and divisiveness?
How do you bridge a divide between two people who are far apart in several different ways, and have little in common? After all, each one of us may find ourselves in such a situation.
A good team, whether in sports, business, or family, can be almost magical. What are the properties that make a team great?
When you have a group of people working together to achieve a common goal — in other words, a team — finding the right mix can be tricky.
One thing to consider is to select people with the right skill set. For example, an ideal baseball team would have a shortstop and a third baseman, rather than two third basemen or two shortstops.
Finding a good person to lead and/or motivate the team is very important. The leader sets the tone for the entire group, and needs to have the respect of the individual members.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’
One aspect that is often overlooked is you need to have the right project for the team to work on. A group that would be good at, say, writing a software program probably will not be so good at marketing or selling a product. Or, to use a sports example, a great basketball team won’t be very good playing hockey.
Can you think of instances in your life when you have been a part of a group that was really in sync and excelled? What were the factors that made your team successful, and can you reproduce them?
It is common to feel a lack of belonging to any community beyond your immediate family. Are you doing anything to change that?
In the industrialized world, an emphasis is placed on he individual, or the idea of the small, “nuclear” family. It is common for children to move far away from their parents, and for people to settle down and raise their own family hundreds or even thousands of miles away from where they grew up.
This is a far cry from families that saw multiple generations living together under one roof. Or a clan being an extended family all living in the same village.
Under current circumstances, a sense of community can be hard to find. Many of the traditional institutions that provided that sense of community, like family and the church, are in decline. Even people who live in a densely populated residential area might not know many — or any — of their neighbors.
Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’
Things have gotten particularly bad as a result of the pandemic. First the lockdown limited social interaction, and then many of the more popular ways of socializing, like music concerts or sporting events, were canceled or heavily restricted.
And yet, human beings are social animals. We crave social interactions, and we feel the need to belong to a group that is larger than ourselves.
Do you feel that pull to join other people? In what ways are you trying to reestablish contact with friends and neighbors? What activities do you participate in, or what strengthens the bonds you have with others? What are you doing to build community?