Couple weeks ago a friend and I were talking on the phone when the subject of national politics came up.
“I’m just so frustrated with the entire thing up there (Washington DC),” he said. “They can’t seem to get anything done.”
I should probably add my friend and I have probably cancelled out each others presidential vote since we were of legal voting age. That said we both know each other as much as any childhood friend could. We’ve laughed, fought and navigated high school together. There is very little we don’t know about each other or would be able to closely predict.
“I agree,” I said. “They can’t even seem to agree on what to disagree on.”
This statement is a somewhat milestone for each of us to make – that is both agreeing on a political situation.
All of this, however, got me thinking. If two lifelong friends with much different leanings in terms of political policies are frustrated, isn’t it time to apply an old fashioned theory of determining common ground and moving from there?
There is an old exercise of using an empty jar and pile of stones of different sizes to figure to help you understand what is most important in life. Big rocks (family, health, love) go in first. Medium rocks (a house, a job, opportunities to grow) would go in next. Small rocks (possessions, items of wants you can live without) would go in next. What is surprising about this exercise is how in agreement most people are with their big rocks. The others can vary widely, but the big rocks tend to tie a very visible connecting line between humanity.
Below is my list of five common agreements I believe my friend and I would most likely agree upon – the so-called ‘big rock’ issues.
1. No child should ever go to bed hungry in this nation. The United States is traditionally the wealthiest nation on the planet. We should make a collective effort to ensure the elimination of hopeless poverty is always a focus.
2. No child or person should have to go without basic health care options. Again, we need to stop fighting and get to work on this moral issue. We’ve plenty of national wealth. Let’s make sure we take care of those on the very bottom of the economic ladder. If we are the self-appointed moral leader of the Free World, we should start at home and lead by example.
3. We should not be spending more money than we take in as a normal way of operation. Sure, historically, we’ve seen periods when we’ve needed to break from this model due to significant circumstances (war, severe economic downturns, etc.), but to run our nation in deficit mode without deep thought and an exit plan is dangerous.
4. Taxes should be fair. Too many people ‘work’ the system and it is truly broken. I don’t think anyone will complain if asked to chip in their ‘fair share’ so long as they know the playing field is balanced and will provide for a better nation.
5. There will always be people with more and people with less. What is important is we give people the opportunity to apply themselves and move across the economic spectrum with agility and freedom to succeed.
Okay, there it is. Five simple starting points I know my friend and I can agree upon. I realize now comes the hard part – getting there. But if we as a nation honestly recognize what is at stake – our future as a nation – I have faith we can get these big rocks in the jar.
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