It took a candid statement from the owner of Chick-Fil-A, the normal politics that occurs after a controversial statement, and a simple math lesson to focus us on an important principle that has been lost on humanity for too long. I’m seeking to revive awareness of that principle in the blog entry, so we can hopefully unlock the latent power that exists in the human equation.
The Chick-Fil-A experience was only the latest opportunity for humanity to take sides against each other. I find it interesting that we can find truth in statements like “TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More”, and “United we stand, divided we fall”, yet all we do in our daily dealings with each other is divide into factions that fight with each other.
For me, the deeper lesson in Chick-Fil-A comes from taking a big picture view. For most of us, Mr. Cathy’s statement created two opposing camps over same sex marriage. But, what went largely unnoticed was that not everyone who turned out for appreciation day supported either camp. Many people supported the “day”, because they favor free speech. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect members of the respective camps also favor free speech, which means there was at least one thing everyone had in common that day.
So, here’s where the simple math lesson comes into play. By definition, “division” involves taking a larger group of something and reducing that group into smaller groups. When this is done in math it is a neutral concept which is neither good nor bad. But, when it’s done in politics it usually means the strength of the people is being diluted. This is what happens every time we allow politics to force us to adopt labels. Regardless of of the labels, we become divided to our disadvantage.
We have also forgotten the importance of the “common denominator”, because for some reason, we reach for division first, without appreciating how much we have in common with each other. In the Chick-Fil-A experience, one important common denominator was all the folks who favor free speech. I’m sure there were others, but this is the most obvious one.
I realize free speech has nothing to do with the main issue of the day, but my point is there are so many things on which we have common ground, if we could direct our energies to working together on those things first, maybe the more divisive issues wouldn’t seem so overwhelming by the time we turn our energies to solving those challenges too.
Finding what we have in common and focusing on that before we focus on what would otherwise divide us also allows us to break down the artificial barriers we erect in the “division” process, and allows for communication, trust and respect to evolve. When that happens, better solutions emerge and people feel more vested in working on solutions we can all support.
If we are going to work towards a so called Utopia, why not start with the common denominator principle. We rarely do that in the “human equation”, because we have been conditioned to embrace division before embracing the “exponential power” of the common denominator.
Let’s remember, we are all part of the only race that matters, the human race. We all want to be appreciated, and we all can be without diminishing that need in others. We all want to live happy, abundant lives, and we can without having it be at someone else’s expense. What we need to remember is that these things are more likely to happen when we work together and not in opposition to each other.
For those of you who are fans of movie classic “Remember the Titans“, this one quote encapsulates everything I just shared in this blog:
“People say that it can’t work, black and white; well here we make it work, everyday. We have our disagreements, of course, but before we reach for hate, always, always, we remember the Titans. ” Sheryl Yoast (Character from Remember the Titans).
Let’s “remember the Titans” folks. I hope you’re up to the challenge!