A Lesson on ‘Common Ground’

The chain attaching these two men is not something they were born with.  It is also something that they did not choose.  This chain was attached to them by their oppressors.  Their oppressors attached the chain to these two men because they knew that it was a force divider.  Attach one to another and make them both less than one.  This tactic works for the oppressor as long as the two refuse to cooperate.  The oppression depends on them not cooperating, and their success and survival depends on them cooperating.

These two men are philosophically opposed.  Each sees the other as his inferior, motivated by hate.  Each is determined to not subordinate himself to the other because of their philosophical differences.  At first, they see their respective races as their uniforms, determining their choices.  Their oppressor’s tactic of attaching them to one another demonstrated to each of them that they had more in common than they did not.  Once they realized that, they made progress.  

The important thing to keep in mind is that they did not find common ground by eliminating the philosophical differences by allowing one to be the conqueror, and the other being conquered.  That is not how ‘common ground’ works.  They found common ground by “going around the swamp.”  They focused on mutual need, and used one another as force multipliers, rather than allowing differences to be force dividers.  

If you fail to find common ground, you are finding common ground.  You are just helping an oppressor that you can’t see.  The person who attached the chain is the oppressor, not the person on the other end of the chain.