Debra Smith


This conversation is closed.

How do you find commongrround with the opposite camp?

I am reading an excellent book called "Passion Capital" by Paul Alof. in it is Rockefeller's creed and I truly never thought Rockefeller and I would find common ground. I am not impressed by the manner in which he accumulated his wealth - he is one of th eprimo robber barons and yet I resonate with his personal creed -even if I think it is an attempt by hired PR people to redeem his reputation.
So having said this: Can you find common ground with someone you never thought you could? If so, will you tell us about it, please? Our world needs this skill very badly so let's work to develop it.

Closing Statement from Debra Smith

Finding common ground is possible with people who utterly disagree with you IF there is good will and humour involved in your transactions, Some great suggestions were made below by the repsondents which I heartily thank for their participation.
Suggestions include: try to view the person from the perspective of the basics- they are just people like you.
- share information you might realize that the other does not have
- expressa apreciation for the other - there must be something even if it is only a shared love of iced tea!
-remember when a person is kind - this gives insight to build upon
- discoer a shared passion
-consider the evidence. Most of us aqre not in possession of it all.

Thanks again to every participant.

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    Jul 5 2012: Debra, A month ago I would have said that common ground is not possible. However, I was debating a hotly contested issue with a friend of mne on TED. We disagreed on about everything there was no end in sight. We agreed to take a break and I suggested iced tea and low and behold we agreed that was the preference for both of us. So now I say never give up there is something common for every discussion. This may not sound like a break through to some of you but it was very meaningful to me.

    All the best. Bob
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      Jul 5 2012: I really adore your friend's new friend!
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    Jul 5 2012: Something that you might not know about Rockefeller;

    At the age of 53, he was the richest man in the world but had no happiness, His life was about to end. He could barely eat or sleep. No one liked him. It was at that time that he realized that if he should pass, he couldn't take any of his money with him. It had a life changing effect on him.

    It was at that time that He considered what he could do to give back to the world. He established the Rockefeller Foundation to channel some of his wealth back into the community. That change in attitude changed his whole life. He began to sleep at night. His health began to improve. People began to like/love him. He poured hundreds of millions into hospitals, missions, universities, and helping underprivileged people. As a result, the bitterness that was destroying him began to disperse by the love that was now pouring out of him. The man that was not expected to live another year past 53, saw his 98th birthday.
    Taken from "None of These Diseases" by S.I.McMillen, M.D,

    I used to have strong feelings against atheists because of the stigma that was put on them. Having had spiritual experiences as a child, I knew that there was far more to religion than what we are taught. Although I didn't agree with much of what organized religion teaches (it is in total conflict with my experiences), any rejection of God was seen by me as freedom to act selfishly, and I took a strong dislike to it. Of the atheists that I had met, they were self-centered, arrogant, and boastful. Do unto others before they do unto you was their creed.

    I recently wrote a book (given in my profile) that explains what I believe and how I have come to believe it. My view of atheists is much different than what it used to be. Having read Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion", I saw the humanitarian side of an atheist. And since having been involved with TED conversations, I have come to appreciate their views even if I disagree with some of them.
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      Jul 5 2012: tHANK YOU Roy for further educsting me, i got to the slaughter of his workers and gave up on the guy.
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      Jul 6 2012: excerpts from wikipedia

      "From his very first paycheck, Rockefeller tithed ten percent of his earnings to his church."

      "As Rockefeller's wealth grew, so did his giving, primarily to educational and public health causes"

      "In 1884, Rockefeller provided major funding for a college in Atlanta for African-American women"

      i consider myself in the camp of facts. what is your camp? can we find common ground?
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        Jul 6 2012: I feel we already have. I actually like you very much!
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    Jul 5 2012: While on a particular issue one might define camps as a shorthand, we are all more than our positions on one issue. This leaves tremendous opportunity for common ground.
    A good example is the widespread presence in the United States, certainly, of multifaith social action collaborations. The differences in religious belief exist, but there are key values people share that make working together in social action an easy thing.
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    Jul 5 2012: Thats a very good topic Debra !!

    They are not my enemies though but we were in and still are in opposite camps in our thoughts in our visble actions even then I found our common ground.

    Following are couple of examples.....It's my unversity time, when I was doing my Masters degree. We came across together. He was one of our lecturers. We were doing research under supervision of same professor. He was doing PhD thesis, me, my thesis for Masters degree. He was teacher of department though not my direct teacher , he was and still is fundamentalist in thoughts and even actions....where as I think I am not (may be I am wrong about me, what do you think?). Our unversities are highly politicised and he was powerful and didn't like me at all as I was pretty visible with my belief which was opposite to him.....once we had to go together for our field work. That's the beginig of finding our common ground...... He is one of passionate and authentic researcher, I ever came across (wonder how a fundamentalist can be such an avid scietifice researcher !!!) . After our first trip together for field trip he never chosen any other researcher than me though some of them were on the same school of thoughts, neither did I think to leave him....after so many years we are still connected. Our common ground was our passion for work what we do.......right that time both were passionate biologist....... Couple of years back he (now he is a renowned profdessor his field), he came to my house to see my Kids wondered their dad also have a teacher !!!

    Second is more recent. We came across together in TED. At the begining I found we have something common in our thoughts later I discovered we are actually opposite in our thoughts and beliefs in many cases....but one thing is common for both of us is love for poetry....though he left TED for his own reason we both are still connected in other forum.....DO my examples make sense in regards to your subject
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      Jul 5 2012: DO my examples make sense in regards to your subject?

      Yes, Salim, they do something important. They take the discussion from lofty hypotheticals to concrete daily living where it must be practiced. You always find a way to common ground and i admire that.
  • Jul 5 2012: I find evidence is the most reliable means to find common ground, as when people begin to make baseless claims the forward progress grinds to a halt every time. How do you reason through unsubstantiated claims?

    To me, without evidence it is impossible to conclude a debate. This makes evidence the singular common ground in which varying interpretations of such evidence can be rationally discussed and either dismissed or enhanced.

    From my chair, evidence provides falsifiability in a way no other method can. Every belief can be refined or dismissed with evidence. Even someone with an extreme opposing view can be valuable in a discussion, so long as they have evidence to back up their beliefs. Ignorance of evidence can quickly change a conclusion from one side of a debate to the other. I find debates to be highly educational simply because it can be me who is ignorant of an important bit of demonstrable evidence.

    There are, of course, positions of which there can be no common ground, as in faith. Irrational belief cannot be rationally discussed.
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      Jul 5 2012: Excellent, on that basis I would have confidence in your opinions too while reserving the right to interpret th evidence for myself.
  • Jul 6 2012: It can be extremely difficult at times, especially when I'm in the heat of an argument with someone, but I try to bring it back to the basics, and I think, this person also has parents that he loves, might have kids that he cherishes, a wife he adores, must have gone through similar troubles as myself growing up, so who am I to judge?

    We all have a mother and father.
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    Jul 6 2012: I perceive us all as human beings having a life experience, and although we all may have different thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, and beliefs, we all share this earth. We drink the same water, eat the same foods, we all share the same feelings of happiness, sadness, joy, frustration, compassion, empathy, humor...etc... We all share many of the same illnesses, injuries and life challenges. We all want to love and be loved...we all live and die...we are really not so different.

    There is no one I cannot recognize common ground with, and finding common ground between two people, takes two people. The more we focus on seperating ourselves from each other, the more that happens in our world, and the more difficulty we have finding common ground. If one views the life experience as a person in opposite camps, and does not recognize the common ground, that is exactly the life experience one creates for him/herself.
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      Jul 6 2012: Colleen, Thank you. I do see evidence that you do these things in everyday practice. The TED community also sees and tries to reward you for doing so. On the other hand, in practice, how do you communicate this acceptance. Is it actually effective as in does the other feel the acceptance. I am not so sure in my case.
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        Jul 6 2012: Hi Debra,
        Thank you for recognizing the practice, which is indeed a HUGE part of my life experience. The pleasure I derive, is my "reward"....and....of course...I appreciate all the positive feedback as well:>)

        I communicate acceptance in every way possible, that I know of, in each moment. I am not responsible for what "the other" feels. I am not so sure about your "case" either. You are the only one who truly has your own answers, and makes your own choices to accept...or not:>)

        As I said in my previous recognize the interconnectedness between two people takes two people, and if one views the life experience as a person in opposite camps, that is exactly the experience one creates for him/herself.
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    Jul 6 2012: i have several problems here.

    1. what is that "camp" thing? we are in camps? we are such that if nobody puts us in camps, we put ourselves? i refuse to be in any camp. whether i agree to someone or not has nothing to with his general views, or my general views for that matter, and if it is similar to some "camp". only the statement itself matters.

    2. what is the manner rockefeller accumulated his wealth? as far as i know, with continued innovation, he made petroleum cheap, so ordinary people could buy. he made a luxury good available to the masses. what distortion is required to twist it to something wrong? maybe here comes that "camp" thing? maybe there are "camps" that declared him as some evil person, and members of that camp should just recite the creed without looking up actual facts?

    maybe the first thing to do to find common ground is to quit any camps.
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      Jul 6 2012: Well, I was having trouble finding the right word and it is clear now that I missed the mark.
      What I was referring to Krisztian is exactly the way you and I usually see things in opposite ways. In fact, I love that for it compels me to think more fully about the issues you raise.

      Rejecting differences sounds great but you lampoon them at every turn= expandiing every dialogue you are in = so part of the answer must be to appreciate those different opinions.

      I am not surprised that you give Rockefeller a 'by' on his behaviour, and you can have Carnegie too!

      As for me, you know I love the earnest guys, like you even if I massively disagree with most of your thoughts!
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      Jul 6 2012: The position of most churches is that it is one book and that the NT is based on the OT at least Christ referred to it many. many times.
      You quote the same chapter where it is against God's law to breed horses too.
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    Jul 5 2012: Only one rule should be followed when proponents of different belief systems, world views, or philosophies come together to engage in respectful, enlightening dialog:
    A system, view, or philosophy must be accepted and respected so long as it does not contradict itself.
    For example, if I advocate a philosophy of equal rights for women, but I do not allow women to vote I have contradicted myself and no longer have a right to be accepted as a viable philosophy. But, if I advocate no rights for women and do not allow them to vote I have not contradicted myself and must be allowed to continue as a respected contributor to the process, no matter how offensive. Thank you!
    • Jul 5 2012: I'm interested, why do you not include evidence as a common ground?

      Do you include assumptions and falsified claims as admirable contributions? If so, what makes them admirable?
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        Jul 5 2012: I did not address common ground in my initial comment. I offered my opinion about the best way to discover whether there is common ground, or not. Sustained dialog is not possible if one's position is pre-judged. Without sustained, disciplined communication common ground will remain undiscovered.
        It is not clear to me how evidence, assumptions, or falsified claims would be considered common ground. It is also not clear to me how common ground can be considered admirable. Common ground is nothing more than agreement. Thank you!
        • Jul 5 2012: Thank you for the reply. I was confused, given the topic of the section, what point you were making.
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        Jul 5 2012: I am nothing if not confusing! My point is that common ground can only be established via mutual participation in conversation or debate. Said communications must be free from the results of pre-suppositions, bias, or prejudice. Only self-contradictory views or systems can be justifiably disallowed. Thank you!
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    Jul 5 2012: Rockefeller's Creed

    I believe in the supreme worhh of the individual and his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I believe that every right implies a responsibility. every opportunity, an obligation, every possession a duty.

    I believe that law was made for man and not man for law. I beleive that government is servant of the people and not their master.

    I believe in the dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

    I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business, personal affiars.

    I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.

    I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond- that his character NOT his wealth, position or power- is of supreme worth.

    I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.

    i believe in an all-wise and all loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfilment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to ne found in living in harmony with HIs will.

    I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world that it alone can oversome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.


    Ok so maybe I do not agree with every point but overall it is pretty darned good, don't you think?
    • Jul 5 2012: I see a lot of ambiguous buzz words and a few contradictions.

      I could use this exact creed to justify genocide, slavery and just about any 'out' I ever wanted. I agree with your first guess of it being a lame PR move to make him seem like an overall decent person. I don't doubt he did plenty of decent acts in his life, but I don't think this creed had any influence on his actions, positive or negative. Nor could this creed have any positive or negative influence on anyone, as it is overly vague and contradictory.
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        Jul 5 2012: please elaborate about how you might do this , Edward so that i understand.
        • Jul 5 2012: Sure thing.

          Examples of vague buzz words are: justice, character, sacred, thrift, well-ordered, supreme worth, pursuit of happiness, dignity of labour, social order, useful service and right (when listed near might). These all sound good in the context of the creed, but are all entirely subjective and widely open to interpretation.

          Due to contradictions, I could easily say I am Muslim, and my holy book tells to to kill all non-believers, making it my god's will.

          "i believe in an all-wise and all loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfilment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to ne found in living in harmony with HIs will."

          That creed has me living according to my god's will, and my god wants me to kill nonbelievers. In fact, that out allows any holy book to be used as a direct extension of this creed.

          Creeds such as these appear to be positive, respectful positions in which to live life, but they work in the identical way as horoscopes and tarot cards. They cover every possibility, leaving an out for anything.

          Now, if it were prioritized and specific, then it could be useful as a creed. Say, read from top down, lower items cannot override the items above it and instead of "right to life, liberty" it read "will not kill or subjugate".

          Creeds such as this are cheap lawyers tricks people use within themselves in order to avoid feeling hypocritical and guilty. It is the same way most con men, fortune tellers and religious institutions persist in the face of mountains of evidence of horrific acts and outcomes. If there is an interpretation for everything, there is a justification for anything.

          As a common ground, this creed is meaningless, as you would spend so much time inquiring as to the definitions of all of these vague terms and reconciling the contradictions the opposing viewpoint would never have a chance to be discussed and debated. In short, it is a red herring.
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        Jul 5 2012: I fail to see how a command to summarily slaughter all unbelievers could come from an "all loving God". That would require a redefinition of the words "all" and "loving". Rockefeller did not endorse any religion that advocates the slaughter of unbelievers by believers. He used the phrase "all loving" in the conventional, accepted sense. You are not free to introduce some other god in the place of the all-loving God Mr. Rockefeller intends. Such a modification creates a new, and different Creed. I think you have failed to prove either vagueness or contradiction in the Creed as written. Thank you!.
        • Jul 5 2012: "You are not free to introduce some other god in the place of the all-loving God Mr. Rockefeller intends."

          Rockefeller was a Christian (Protestant, to be exact), which means his "all-loving" god willed exactly the same thing in his holy book, in Deuteronomy 17, as the same Muslim god did in the Qur'an. It is an obvious contradiction to put "all-loving" and "god's will" when speaking of the Christian god, especially using the meaning of "all-loving" in which you claim was intended.

          I am to assume you mean the Christian god, the one which is fabled to have wiped out all of mankind but Noah and his family because it screwed up the first time creating man. This is the all-loving God he intended? If you wish to focus on the "all-loving" and ignore the "god's will", then you are guilty of the same contradiction as the creed itself. To even claim the Christian god, of which Rockefeller was speaking of, was this teddy bear which doesn't command its followers to kill for it shows a severe ignorance of its scripture.

          You don't seem to understand the god of the Qur'an is not different from the god of the Bible. They are the exact same god. Which means, if it existed, it commanded death to non-believers twice through two different prophets. This, however, shows how common ground can be used to make a point. You didn't know they are the same god, so I used the Christian holy book to make my point.

          Thank you!
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        Jul 5 2012: Edward, Please remember that Rockefeller wrote his creed during his lifertime when it was a novel and groundbreaking thing to do. We cannot judge the beginning of a movment by the leverl its reaches at the end, can we?
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          Jul 5 2012: I have created contusion again because I am " cybercapped" (challenged by using anything more modern than a microwave oven, and especially the Internet.). I meant to direct my most recent comment to Mr. Webber. But I agree we cannot evaluate a trend solely by how it begins. :=]
        • Jul 5 2012: He may have been one of the first to publish a creed, but I don't think anyone lives without a creed. People tend to refer to them as morals prior to writing them down.

          People are judged on their morals on a regular basis, both back then and today. It shows from his life he did not live by the 'intent' of that creed, but by either ignoring it outright or interpreting it to match his own desires, which is what makes such a creed so pointless. If the interpretations can be so distinct, there is still no common ground to be had.

          You read it with your own set of morals, I read it with mine, Rockefeller read it with his and each of us will come up with a vastly different set of conclusions, because it is vague and open to interpretation.

          I agree, at first glance it is inspiring, as inspiring as any inspirational quote on a one-a-day calender is, until you realize it is meant to be so vague nobody walks away with the same meaning. It is intended to make everyone feel good about their actions, no matter what they are. So, I suppose that could be construed as common ground ;)

          As an exercise, try rewriting the creed to not be open to interpretation. I may try it myself, just to see if it is even possible to write a life creed in so few lines.
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        Jul 5 2012: You are correct to point-out that the Holy Bible chronicles some heavy-handed dealings between God and Man. At this point it becomes necessary to ask not why he killed so many people, but why did he spare any? Why didn't, or doesn't, he wipe out everyone? I know the Holy Bible well enough to say it is because he is a loving God who loves the world with a supremely sacrifical, costly love. If you have seen an American football game you have seen the text reference from the Holy Bible which answers our question. . . John 3:16. Your words say, QUOTE: " my god wants me to kill unbelievers." That cannot be the God of the Holy Bible and therefore not the God which Rockefeller intended. Thank you!