That’s a quote from a Bill Klem, widely regarded as the “Father” of baseball umpires. While he was referring to strikes and balls, the sentiment holds great meaning about “labeling”…everything.
Meet my neighbors…
Just about two of the most incredible human beings I could ever hope to know, much less have the good fortune of living next to. Mikey “I gotta a guy” Sobieski, circled in blue and “Durty” Johnny Sturdy in orange, giving the gift of their time, talent and equipment to dig out the block yesterday. These gifts came as no surpirse to me…afterall exactly 8 months ago today, they welcomed me to their block with open arms, minds and hearts.
I’d given them little reason to…prior to my arrival, they endured 9 long months of a rehabbing crew coming in hot at 7:15am to begin their day giving my home some much needed love. Who’s to know whether we would have met otherwise, we’re different…Mikey is a Marine veteran. His imposing physical stature (tall and fit) and tats would understandably put him in the “looks like a bad-ass” category. And, Johnny’s an arist with a big fancy camera…his eye and skill in capturing moments almost always takes my breath away. And yet a mere 8 months later, here they are braving the blustery day to love on me.
Sure, our differences could have certainly kept us apart. Without intention, we focused on our commonalities…proximity, covid, their significant others, a love of dogs, nature and roaring fires in firepits. We’ve marked the passage of loved ones, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, a new calendar year and just about any opportunity to trash talk each other and come together over a fire and a brew. We don’t always see eye to eye…but we always see each other and we rely on our commonalities to be that bond that holds us all together.
Why am I telling you this story…
What we have created is exactly the impetus for my interest, investment (time, talent and treasure) and commitment to Braver Angels. Our mission of Building a House United by enabling people, not to change their minds about the issues, but to change their minds about each other is at the heart and soul of our mission. Back to the quote, “It ain’t nothin’ till I call it!” Mikey, Johnny and I could have all focused on our differences and “called it”. There’s all kinds of labels we could have applied to each other, and we could have further allowed those labels to crystalize our thougths, so much that the labels themselves became “traits” which inevitably creates divide.
I believe that 99% of the human population is represented by good people doing the best they can to get by. I believe that life can be really messy and I further believe that we can be fragile. Long before COVID and all of the events of 2020, as a population there were those of us who were suffering from an increasing sense of isolation, a feeling like our voices weren’t being heard, and for some of us a feeling like we just didn’t matter. I hold out great hope that the foundation Braver Angels has built over the past four years, and the processes they created and have refined over and over again will offer a space where all participants will feel comfortable sharing. A space where they’ll feel heard…a space where they’ll learn and finally a space where if there’s any to be found, some common ground to move forward on.
Yes, the mere thought of addressing the political polarization in this country is off-putting sometimes even with those we love the most. We are an answer, and we know we won’t be a good fit for everyone. We aspire to moderate spaces where through open minds and open hearts we begin to see that we have more in common than we “called”.
Let me know if you’re interested in learning more, it would make me so happy to help.