I snapped a picture of the flyer because the words were overflowing with irony. The coffee shop flyer announced a get-together celebrating "unity" and a bulleted list of those to whom it applied.
The list did not include my demographic.
Thankfully, my love cup was not chipped.
If I crashed the party, were welcoming arms awaiting me, or would I have been the lone guy in the corner receiving sideways glances?
Our words matter. Google defines unity as, "the state of being united or joined as a whole." The definition indicates the whole whole. The word was at the height of popularity in the 1960's, and it has fallen out of favor, returning to its 1880's usage levels. Perhaps now we just intend unity within our piece of the whole.
Technology has delivered our tribe to our fingertips. This accessibility is exciting. We can now find like-minded left-handed turquoise bolo tie aficionados. It is easier than ever to despise my neighbor that sees the world from a different perspective, after all; my posse is just a text away.
100% alignment is a myth. We have never all been the same. We are just short of courage to speak up within our little unity circle. By virtue of our humanity, our interests are too diverse to fit into a tidy box. You have more in common with your crotchety opponent than you realize.
The hard part is approaching with a simple curiosity. Not just to hear, but to listen. To resist the temptation to formulate a response.
With all the noise, we are startled when someone truly listens. Everyone has something to teach you and me.
The solution may be as easy as an upgrade to your questions, to zip your lip, and crank up the hearing aid.
Do you see your opponents as fellow humans that have hopes, dreams, and read bedtime stories? When did they shift from human to enemy? What nuances of dissenting opinions do you dismiss? When do you seek first to understand, vice to be understood? Who is someone you could reach out to in an effort to expand your circle of unity?