One of the things I was taught early on in AA is to focus on the similarities with somebody and not on the differences. Before I was taught this I made the mistake of tuning people out because of how different they were from me. I really blocked myself from learning from people with much more sobriety than I had at the time. Fortunately for me the lesson was learned and I even got to use in conversation this morning with my girlfriend of 14 years. Sometimes, I may call her my wife or sometimes just my partner, we’ve lived together for over a decade, so don’t be confused if I call her several things over time, it’s the same person.
Anyhow, my girlfriend tends to get chatty when she wakes up, especially on the weekends and I typically take a while to get warmed up. I’m usually out the door in 20 minutes and on my way to a meeting so my more poignant thoughts don’t come until a cup of coffee or two has met my gullett. She is on a board at a private school and she is frustrated because she doesn’t see eye to eye with them. The crux of the issue is that the school is 80% latino in terms of students and the board and the staff are about 90% white so the latinos aren’t getting a viewpoint that reflects their own personal cultural identity. My girlfriend is latina and she is all about respecting one’s culture so this is an issue with her. I was taking this all in and I was thinking about I realized she is being too divisive and missing out on what she has in common with the board. She went to school there for 12 years and she has a bachelors degree so she understands the culture of private school education and is highly educated. In order to work with the board she will need to connect with them personally, find the common ground and then stir some shit up and help facilitate change.
I realize that lately I too have benefitted from focusing on my common ground with the men at my fellowship. I missed out on a lot of personal connections with my instinctual reaction of finding the differences. But now I am enjoying a lot of conversations with people and am way more receptive to peoples shares at the meetings. Instead of finding myself frustrated because I was listening to people I couldn’t relate to I am getting a positive message and enjoying myself more because I am finding the common ground.