Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Problem With Common Ground

Between any two people or any group of people, there are those things that are common and those things that are particular. In a crowd of fifty people, they all might share the same nationality, maybe the same skin color, maybe the same profession, certainly the same species and need for food and oxygen; there could also be fifty different value systems, fifty different passions, fifty different languages, fifty different destinations. Some people want to focus on what is common, others want to focus on what is different.

It seems that people hope to overcome conflict, selfishness, unproductivity, and nearly all dissatisfaction if they can just get people to focus on common ground. What must be remembered, though, is that shared common ground can only account for a portion of any single human being, and the more individuals you add to the crowd the smaller that portion of a human being that is common to them all will be. No satisfaction is possible for the individual because no individual is taken as his full self, a sliver of satisfaction is possible at best. And certainly it is impossible for the crowd to be happy because crowds do not experience, only individuals do.

Happiness and satisfaction can only be sought at the individual level. At the macro, societal level, the best you can hope for is to stay out of people's way.

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