Rubbing Us Right: The Common Ground Platform

June 25, 2020

I was on Facebook yesterday and got into a discussion with someone I had just met online. We formed one of those quick friend-of-a-friend, point-counter-point relationships. She asked me a question and told me that I was a fool if I didn’t answer it a certain way. I responded by asking her who benefits from anyone calling someone a fool? Then I left the post office parking lot I was sitting in and drove home — about five minutes across my homespun Central Oregon community. In those five minutes, in her mind, she had figured me out.

I didn’t post one comment while I was behind the wheel, but she somehow managed to discern my essence. I pulled into my driveway and read her message string. I then messaged her that she had a great sense of humor. It was hilarious that she found me to be a behind-the-times, stubborn-male-liberal-with-too-much-spit-in-my-mouth, overly-philosophical pathetic human. All of this came from me not replying to her 33-separate-lines message while I was making my short crosstown hop. Sometimes we really don’t have any idea what someone else is dealing with, even if it’s just trying to keep a car on the road. If only she had known what I was going through.

As part of her communique — after I told her I had been driving — she sent me a photo of her motoring down the highway while sending me her messages. With that photo she suggested I get voice text in order to get caught up technologically. She made this point graphically — with the image and her language. I commented that it looked like she was on a nice drive since the sun was out and the road was empty. She sent me another photo of, I believe, her and her daughter smiling in the sun. She said it was a beach day. I replied that it looked fun. I also said that I was glad she had an enjoyable day and I hoped her evening was going to be good. Her last message to me was “Same with you.” I think she meant it.

In this discourse and discord we found an undeniable connection. Most people like driving on lightly traveled roads. She did and I do. The vast majority of us like going to the beach. And, more often than not, we each hope for an enjoyable evening. In these similar pursuits, we usually find common ground.

With this reminder of often-shared hopes — even on the heels of protests, isolation, an under-attended campaign rally for one candidate and a speech missing some coherence from the other — I decided to check out the political party policy platforms espoused by the opposing sides in this upcoming election to see if there are any similarities between them. After a quick internet review, a flashback to this Facebook conversation of the day before, and reading a few more reports on the state of our disunion, I discovered that both platforms share some malarkey and disingenuousness, but not much else. So I created a common ground platform.

This platform may rub some wrong. And, if there is such a thing, it is going to rub some right. Of course there is such a thing. It happens when we hug, hold hands, make love, pat a back, and play tag with our kids. I am going for rubbing the vast majority of us right since 70 percent of us share the same dreams, hopes, and fears.

Here is the five-point common ground platform:

1. Science and sincere spirituality before self-serving shenanigans.

2. Civil (as in decent and fair and civic) rights before racism.

3. Common interest before cronyism.

4. Respect before re-election.

5. Community before commodity.

That’s it. Who wants to adopt this common good platform? If you are or aren’t all in, please allow me to expand.

Science and sincere spirituality before self-serving shenanigans.
We are faced with true science — chemistry, biology, and physics — issues. The coronavirus is a virus. Climate change is real. Good drinking water and dependable crop irrigation sources are in shorter supply. Let’s let experts be the experts and then require policy that follows their recommendations. And let’s not play shallow, self-enriching, and insincere religion or spirituality cards in order to gather support for one’s material gain or corporate pursuits that are not aligned with our collective wellbeing.

Civil (as in decent and fair and civic) rights before racism.
Enough already with the bigotry. Prejudice mattered a little bit when warring tribes squared off over a dead mastodon. It was important back then to know your kin so that you didn’t smash the wrong guy’s head. Today, creature comforts in America abound for most of us, even though they often come at the expense of backbreaking labor. Let those less fortunate earn their share without skin color, religion, sexuality, and creed obstacles or impediments. Let’s focus on the common good.

Common interest before cronyism.
In the end, what good does it do us to give mineral or water or land rights to a buddy (or his or her corporation) if the impact of these backroom deals could be the end of us all? The world has finite resources. It’s time to put us Good Deserving People and a Greatly Degenerating Planet ahead of Gross Domestic Product, the “GDP” that is the primary focus of most politicians. Economic growth is not a determinant of humane treatment. Opportunity, kindness, relative comfort, and order in the pursuit of shared prosperity are. These common interests are needed much more than skyrocketing stock value and egregious executive officer overcompensation.

Respect before re-election.
Trust is an outcome of respect. Respect is born of accountability. Accountability requires truth — internal and external. When truth is for sale, then so are our souls.

Where do you most readily find truth? In your gut and in your neighbors’ eyes. Where do you find massaged reality? Most often in sources that are getting paid lots of money to keep you wondering what the truth is. And sometimes with those who struggle to acknowledge that their opinions or values are wrong — regardless of proof — and their minds won’t be changed. In the case of the former, turn off the talking heads. In the case of the latter, just be nice when you offer up an alternative, and shrug as needed.

So let’s get back to basics. You tell the truth — that which you know in your gut is accurate and right — and I will do the same. Let’s put down the screw-you meme swords and pick up the shared-knowledge plowshares. Let’s rebuild respect for one another, here and now, and then let’s demand the same of government officials in order for them to get reelected. Let’s require their respect — of us and of each other. It’s time to stop honoring and supporting those who struggle with this concept.

Community before commodity.
Whether it is a real estate sale, the purchase of an unnecessary plastic object made in China, or booking a local fishing guide for a day trip, transactions should consistently be analyzed for their overall impact on one’s community. In this regard, industriousness cannot focus solely on one’s income. What you work hard for also has to include social equality, resource regeneration, compassion, and justice.

Community need not be a specific town or region. The earth’s ecosphere, population subgroups (firefighters, people with disabilities, or those living downwind of a smokestack are examples), or an entire country are also examples of communities. The core of this concept is simply this: do not put financial gain — commodity — ahead of community. Economic success is not true success if it comes at the expense of others or causes immediate and irreparable environmental damage. As such, this fifth platform point requires politicians not to put mantras just where their mouths are, but to put them into action as well. The wellbeing of all is paramount. Elected officials’ deeds and our behaviors must reflect this.

The platform received good initial reviews among those that I shared it with before writing this article, even some people on Facebook. My new acquaintance even said that, in spite of me being “out to lunch” — which is where I was before the post office, and how she knew this I may never know — she agreed with it. We share a liking of the common ground platform. Same with you?

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