The Only Two Ways to Heal the Divide
Bill Cottringer

“Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

There is no denying that we have a great Divide going on in our country, that has reached the point of begging for some reconciliation and healing to halt the dangerously escalating harmful destruction. This Divide started as a natural process where anything and everything all have two complimentary natures—one side being made up of individual parts and the other having a collective whole managing the individual parts. This is the Gestalt Principle of early psychology. As it turns out, each is just a different side of the same coin.

The observation of the Divide first came about by seeing daylight turn into a dark nighttime and later with the life and death transition. Of course, the biggest divide has always been between us and the rest of the “oneness” of life. From here we have divided the whole world into “this” or “that” in our minds, with more word flavors than the words are supposed to represent. That is the trouble with language—it removes the wonderful reversibility thinking of children in seeing stair steps going up and down at the same time, with no bias for either direction. Unfortunately, that is gone with adults.

Unification is not really a mystery, but it seems that we understand the obscure problems and solutions in life take a while to see. What we seem to be missing is that the obvious problems and solutions take even longer to see. That is because of two main reasons: (a) the obvious problems and their solutions are too close to us, like our own skin (b) We prefer things to be more difficult than too easy, and like the surprise of solving more difficult problems.

Healing the Divide involves both sides—us vs. them, Republicans vs. Democrats, Christians vs. non-Christians, optimists vs. pessimists, rich vs, poor, educated vs. uneducated, minorities vs. non-minorities, males vs. females, gay people vs. straight people, etc.—to stop their almighty resistance to doing two things:

• Becoming less egocentric and more humble. This leads to realizing the value of not taking ourselves too seriously, especially our chosen or preferred perspectives and beliefs as to what is good and true and what is not so. The truth be known, who we are, is an accumulation of what we have gotten from others—some good and some bad information.

• Being less rigid and more willing to compromise and collaborate. This requires a willingness to let go and erase hard lines in the sand, in searching for middle ground agreement where nothing of great importance is lost and something of value is gained for all. Compromising and collaborating leads to a win-win, abundance mentality. The opposite win-lose, scarcity mentality is what happens with the competitive mindset., as just one more part of the Divide.

The question becomes—If this solution is really so obvious and easy to see, then why is it so hard to do? Here’s one reason: The folks who have the most passion for their beliefs and chosen side in any form of the Divide, also have the hardest line drawn in the sand—right of left, under or over, or before or after the Divide. And the more investment there is in acquiring and defending a particular belief or side in a Divide, the more impervious it becomes to changing. Remember, all the proof in the world about the dangers of smoking has not stopped it from happening.

Here is another reason, this one as to why people sometimes neglect nurturing their own humility: Survival of the fittest still rules. We are born into three conflicts in life: Us against life, Our tribe against their tribe, and our good selves vs. our bad selves. These conflicts require great effort and resolve to get through, and this takes strong ego power to accomplish. Why would you want to give up something that got you everything you have? This can only happen when you begin to not take yourself so seriously and question who you really are.

When you do this, something interesting happens. You actually start getting more by trying to control less. In becoming more mindful of what is happening here and now, you increase awareness of the many things that are not under your control, to discover the few that are. These controllables are what you choose to believe and how you communicate these beliefs, by discerning the best truth with critical thinking and speaking and writing with responsibility and accountability.

And here is another human oddity to consider in delaying any solution to healing the Divide. With 180-degree vision at any one time we are prone to accept the illusion we have grasped the whole truth of a situation, when in reality, we have only managed to get our arms wrapped around a half-truth, which the other side of the Divide usually has.

Help heal the Divide by being humble and compromising and collaborating with others. Be a doer as the quote below suggests.

“The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers.” ~Thomas Sowell.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or