Common Ground


Nurturing peace within ourselves is our abiding goal within a world which offers us constant invitations to give up our peace, to fight, and/or join in judgments against others. One way we can rise above this dismal, dispiriting, silly noise is by seeking common ground with everyone. Rather than looking to judge, we can look with eyes of kinship, of oneness. The more we practice looking for connections with others, the easier it becomes.

If our goal is to persuade others to our point of view, peace takes a back seat and can totally disappear.  When all we desire is to live together in peace, respecting, and honoring one another, it will happen within us.  The energetic feeling of someone wanting to connect through love, through the commonality of humanness, of life, is felt and honored by others. 

As peace seekers, it behooves us to find peace within ourselves and with others: to find common ground.  We cannot nurture peace within if we don’t feel peaceful towards everyone.  It is essential to separate act and doer in order to be able to find common ground with everyone. Rather than claiming the role of judge and jury, let us instead look for what we admire and/or share with the “other.”  Maybe this person is afraid of not being loved and covers it with layers of meanness; rather than focus on the meanness, let us focus on the fear and help ourselves and the “other” discover what it is that we have in common. Maybe it’s as simple as being afraid sometimes, or having a body ache sometimes, or being proud of our children or ancestors, or music, or nature. The more we seek and discover common ground, the happier and more peaceful we will be, and others may be too. 

Another important component of common ground is listening to learn rather than listening to find evidence of the other’s faults or weakness of their point of view.  When we are open to learn from and listen to others, everything changes: our bodies soften, our voices are gentler, the vibrations other feel from us are open and welcoming.  No longer judge and jury, we are fellow beings looking to discover areas of commonality, of shared joys, of shared worries.  The more we practice listening to learn as a path of common ground, the more peaceful we will feel and the more peace that will flow from us to others. 



has a single agenda:



Reflections – I have been thinking about common ground for some time and the current state of our world and nation prompted me to choose this practice now as a part of the antidote for invitations to judge, divide, and encourage violence. As I reflected on common ground in my life, I turned once again to my experiences in nature since that is a place of such peace for me.  Never have I challenged an owl or a snake or a flower about their beliefs or expected them to act other than they do. I totally accept who and what they are. We share the common ground of being alive, being here now, wanting to survive and hoping our families will survive too.  Rather than feeling any desire or need to lecture them on their choices, I often look to them as examples of how to live.  From snake, I learn the wisdom and practice of letting go of what no longer serves.  While sister snake sheds her skin, I shed some of my old ideas about the wisdom of judging others.  From turtle, I learn the wisdom of keeping my own rhythm and my own pace, no matter what anyone else is doing.  While sister turtle is moseying along at her pace, I am as well despite the invitations from others to hurry up and walk with them.

Pondering all I have learned from my friends and other species, I began to think about what I have learned from other people some whom I have loved from the start and others whom I am learning to appreciate and honor through common ground:

  • From my Grandma I learned to only pass on the good, the love.
  • From my Grandpa, I learned that by listening, I would learn from others.
  • From my Mother, I learned the power and joy of laughter in all circumstances.
  • From my friend Jewell, I learned that everyone is my teacher.
  • From my friends and neighbors who see the world as a dark and scary place, I have learned the power of compassion and common ground.
  • From Thich Nhat Hahn, I have learned the simplicity of living from the awareness of common ground, of respect, compassion, love, and justice for all. During the Vietnamese War, Thich Nhat Hahn was asked whether he stood for North Vietnam or South Vietnam.  His reply was “I am for Vietnam.” [1]  May his wisdom be our guide in finding common ground.

  [1] Paraphrase from memory

Your turn – Is there someone you are tempted to judge?  Rather than follow that old, unpeaceful path, visualize yourself in conversation with that person.  Visualize yourself listening to learn, listening to find something of common ground.  Visualize yourself listening to find something to identify with, to bond with this fellow human being. Once you are comfortable with this possibility, do it!  Once you have done it, write down what happened, how you felt.  If it feels right to you, please let me know how this goes for you. 

Thank you for being a vital part of Peace on Earth by nurturing peace in your heart, in your life.  The more that you embody peace, the more peace there is.


Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.  (Click on the blue link below.)

Jean Victor Balin Dove



We can find common ground

only by moving to

higher ground.

Jim Wallis




 I choose this photo because most people are drawn to beaches; they are common ground for us. Beaches are places were people smile, speak, and savor the sounds, sights, and treasures of the sea. 



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