| May 1, 2014 | 3 Comments

Howard Thurman, a perceptive and wise man, believed in the message of common ground.

Common ground is an elusive concept that often slips through the cracks of the imagination. Most just yawn, dismissing it as philosophical jargon. It dies a sad, lonely death in the minds of many, unexplained and only superficially understood.

It’s a tragedy really.

photo credit: moriza via photopin cc

photo credit: moriza via photopin cc

Common ground is life, and laughter, and love all pressed into one simple idea that one very wise man had the ability to articulate in such a way that made it accessible to everyone.

According to Howard Thurman, it is a two-fold journey, a personal exploration to discover who you are and a desire to be part of the community.

I think of common ground in terms of music. There are many different voices and individual instruments that come together with their own part to play in order to create one, harmonious melody. Each element of the song has the capacity to stand alone—a beautiful voice or the trilling of the flute—but when they work together, they can make something that is so much more than the individual could hope to achieve.

Dr. Howard Thurman believed that the world needs harmony.

In The Search For Common Ground he writes, “For all men to be alike is the death of life in man, and yet perceive the harmony that transcends all diversities and in which diversity finds its richness and significance.”

photo credit: Paul Ealing 2011 via photopin cc

photo credit: Paul Ealing 2011 via photopin cc

Each individual is a different element of the song and common ground comes when all of these different elements come together to make a melody. But, that’s not all there is to it. Finding common ground can only occur when people chose to be truly themselves, for then they are united by their willingness to accept and learn from one another.

So what is common ground?

I believe that it is a state of being that must be found within before it can be shared with others. It is a state that can only come about when someone fully understands what drives him or her to live and learn with ferocious intensity. How can someone hope to understand another’s passion if they have never been passionate about something? Common ground is also a shared experience. In order to reach the right note and make astonishing things happen, it’s critical to interact with others, to share experiences, to learn what it means to be responsible, and to feel connected to someone through action and dialogue. Ultimately, common ground is a state of shared passion and harmonious growth.

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion, Thurman Thoughts

Emily Sheehan

About the Author ()

Emily Sheehan is from the rainy city of Seattle, Washington. She loves lattes and latte foam, the quiet of snowfall, fantasy novels, black cats, and The Lord of the Rings movies. She aspires to become an executive producer or director and make movies that tell fantastic stories. If she can make at least one person laugh once a day for the rest of her life she'll be satisfied.

Comments (3)

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  1. Alexis says:

    You are actually my favorite blogger/writer. Everything you write is so magnificent and intuitive. Works of art.

    • Emily Sheehan Emily Sheehan says:

      Thank you so much Alexis! This made my week! I’m happy that some of my wandering rambles connect with someone other than my hapless self.

  2. Tino Bratbo says:

    I think that the many metaphors from nature that we can come up with to illustrate common ground speaks to the fact that common ground is in fact a very natural phenomenon – we see it everywhere in the world. It is only we humans with our supposedly sophisticated brain that’re having trouble with the concept.

    Well written!

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