Monthly Archives: February 2017

Noodle on This: Find Common Ground with Others

Noodle* on this …

Image of oxpecker bird and zebra face to face finding common ground

If two different species (the oxpecker and zebra) can find common ground, why can we humans not do the same thing with one another?

Embrace a diversity of ideas. Embrace the fact that you can disagree with people and not be disagreeable. Embrace the fact that you can find common ground – if you disagree on nine out of 10 things, but can find common ground on that 10th, maybe you can make progress. If you can find common ground, you can accomplish great things.

~ David Boies, Attorney

The oxpecker and zebra could not be more different and yet they live and thrive together. One would think that because they are so different they would have co common ground and that a tiny bird might be afraid of a big zebra. But, they have found common ground.

The oxpecker feeds on the ticks and other parasites that live on the zebra and when danger approaches, the bird flies up screaming a warning to the zebra. The zebra gives the oxpecter a safe place to land and rest its wings. Both the zebra and oxpecker benefit from the relationship.

We humans cannot always see that we are connected to one another and how we can support and help one another. When we see someone “not like us” or hear something with which we do not agree, we immediately go into judgment mode.

Working in an emergency room, I come in contact with many people “not like me” every day and although it is sometimes hard, I am learning to see each person as a fellow traveler on the rocky road of life. So, I look for a way to connect with them. Sometimes a person is wearing a colorful shirt or has a cool tattoo or a Chicago Cubs cap (Cubs Rule and miracles happen!) These things become common ground for a conversation and as a result, I get to meet some amazing, brave, funny, interesting people who, at first glance appeared to be “not like me.”

Your Noodle Challenge

What will you do to find common ground with people “not like you?”  Write your idea(s) in the Leave a Reply field below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image Credit: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn. All rights reserves