Step outside and listen to other voices

Step outside and listen to other voices

Birthday, birthday, of which I’ve had a ton, can you tell me how it is that I’m now 51?

My 50s have been luminous, given that I started out this decade celebrating on a rooftop in Barcelona, Spain. I’ve only had one year inside of 50, but I’ve given myself permission to roll around a bit, savoring the crumbly edges I’ve brushed off. I was tired of the mold we all seem to be given at birth, poured into and formed around. I’ve climbed out of it and sanded those pointy pieces that want to hang on and limit me. Only chocolate needs a mold to keep its shape.

I’ve been thinking a lot about common sense lately. Defined, common sense can mean having good judgement, levelheadedness or wisdom. I wouldn’t say I’m wise beyond any one of my 51 trips around the sun because to say I’m infinitely wise in my own eyes — unmatched even — would go against much I’ve been taught: stay humble, work hard, treat others as yourself. But we live in an increasingly selfish world, one that relishes much for some and little for most. We talk a good talk and publicly want to walk a blameless walk.

Sometimes as I sit at my desk overlooking my backyard, I ask myself why I believe what I believe. Why do I think that not having money shouldn’t stop someone from going to the doctor if they’re sick? Why do I believe everyone should have food to eat? What causes me to believe that travel should be something accessible to everyone instead of some? In what world do we live in that I believe no one should have to choose between paying their electric bill or feeding their children? What’s brought me to this point of knowledge? This small core of common sense I hold daily under a magnifying glass to gain a better view of.

There’s something to be said for those that sit in self-made spaces of judgement, looking down at those that differ in belief and thought — their way of living — declaring them void of common sense. It takes my breath away. I labor to be civil, to be just, to share insights I might have on issues that could shed light for people unfamiliar with something happening in public discourse — something happening to me or something happening to you.

If one word offends, one single word, I find another way of saying it so all might hear. I’d like to think my 51 years has earned me a bit of wisdom, some pearls of truth I can share for the greater good. I examine who I am daily.

You see my religion or belief system or my political party doesn’t define my existence, my humanity. It doesn’t define my intelligence, how I do my job and especially not my common sense. If I wonder why someone believes the way they do, then that thought deserves a cup of coffee and a good two hours of conversation.

There is an intrinsically loving way to sift and listen to each other face to face. Lumping groups of people and beliefs into one pile only causes confusion. There are more ways to live than the one you know. Rejecting ideas unfamiliar to you by listening to only those inside your own belief system does nothing more than create an echo chamber. Common sense says step outside and listen to other voices — the air is fresh out here.

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