In Search of Commonality

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By Kirk McCarley,

Kirk Mccarley

There’s an exercise where two people face each other a couple of feet apart with one raised hand.  Palms meet and each individual is instructed to apply force to the other person’s hand.  The question is then asked, “what progress is being made?”

In this era of divisiveness in which we now exist, does it not seem as if we are wrapped up in a world of opposing forces not only in disagreement, but often in rage against one another?  Vaxing vs. anti-vaxxing.  Pro-choice vs. pro-life.  Red vs. blue.  Industrialists and environmentalists.  The list goes on.

If I’m honest, I must examine my own rationale.  How do I size a person up?  Do I focus first on outward appearance, the clothes that are worn, hairstyle, adornments such as tattoos or piercings?  Do I stereotype based on where someone is from or belief systems?  Are my premises flawed?

During a recent meeting a client shared similar thoughts.  A person of faith, his livelihood directly involves one or more of these combustible topics of modern society.  An idea he submitted regards our initial approach towards one another.  Do we seek first to differentiate or rather search for commonality?  Prefacing his consideration was a concept to begin from referenced no less than between 442 and 759 times in the Bible, depending upon translation:  LOVE!  Can we AGREE that’s a lot of mentions?

How do we practically live that out?

What if we first disarm?  Are you equipping yourself for confrontation or understanding?  Do you know the other’s stories?

I met Patricia on a plane.  Admittedly I’m a travel snob, perfectly content to bury myself in the pages of the most recent literary find.  Patricia had drawn the short straw and was confined to the middle seat.  She began casual conversation and I confess my first reaction was to get back to my book.  Instead, something directed me to refocus and listen.  For an hour I learned about her work, her family, and hopes and dreams.  As it turned out we had a lot in common.  We lived in the same county.  We have worked in public service.  We were married, had kids and grandkids.  We were fortunate to have all five of our senses.  We bleed the same color.  We could agree that we wanted people to come together for a greater good.

I finished that book later.

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi asks the Lord to make us instruments of His peace.  What are ways that can be lived out?

  • There are times and places where opinion matters and needs to be expressed.  Carefully examine if that time and place is in the present moment, later, or ever, for that matter.
  • Does your manner or countenance reflect kindness or provocation?  Does it further relationships?
  • Is your “go to” a smile or a frown?
  • Where is your curiosity meter?  Are you asking more questions or offering up more responses?
  • Seek connection with those of different ilk.  Challenge yourself to overcome timid awkwardness.

Timmy Thomas is a soul, R&B, and pop artist.  One heck of a keyboardist too.  Nearly 50 years ago he crafted lyrics that not only captured a time of the turmoil of war and discord but one that remains timeless to this day.

“Tell me why? Tell me why? Tell me why?
Why can’t we live together?
Everybody wants to live together
Why can’t we live together?

No more wars, no more wars, no more war
Just a little peace in this world

No matter, no matter what color
You are still my brother
No matter, no matter what color
You are still my brother”

Peace to you and yours this holiday season.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact,, or call  314-677-8779.

Seed Sower

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