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Moving Beyond Polarization, Part 2

Posted by Barton Cutter on Nov 11, 2016 8:00:10 AM

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, results from the U.S. presidential election came in. Simultaneously, a cacophony of noise from both sides, ranging from elation to dismay, filled the space.

Although President-elect Donald Trump called on his critics to offer their support and guidance to him during his acceptance speech, a great chasm remains in the minds of many wondering how and even if unity can be found. Indeed, this goes well beyond the U.S. itself, as polarizing perspectives from around the world seem to be increasingly on the rise.

Last week, we looked at how a tactical approach to the active side of human nature can bridge gaps and perspectives. And while the active can be useful as it engages us in a common physical activity, we must also be able to use the human aspects of being to bridge perspectives in service to mutual understanding.

Perhaps the most powerful tool for this is the human capacity to be curious both of self and other. Curiosity calls us to move from the active expression of speaking and defending our own perspectives to a receptive and restorative approach to listening to what others are saying.

Curiosity by its nature places us firmly in the unknown, forcing us out of our own ego perspectives to find value in the words, opinions ad perspectives of another.

To do this, we have to recognize our own biases and see the unconscious lenses through which we are looking on a daily basis. As we recognize these biases and sometimes hidden lenses through which we operate, we find that we can make a choice as to when and how we look through them.

Curiosity is a prerequisite to listening. We have to be willing to wonder about others in order to listen to them wholeheartedly. When this happens, we find ourselves expanded, not only by the possibility of new knowledge, but also in our ability to find space and distance from our own habits.

At another level, when we become curious, we also find ourselves in a deepened state of presence. From this presence, our attachment to an individual identity softens as an underlying synergy with all things emerges. We feel a deeper connection to our humanity as the similarities to others become far more prevalent than our perceived differences. As we come to rest upon these common, essential human elements, connection opens and we find all conversations richer and more diverse.

As we step into this period of transition, notice where polarization arises in you. Where can you stretch you curiosity? And what conversations would bridge the gaps you feel?

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