How to Live in Harmony When You Disagree
We're in a chaotic time in our country, and while most of us didn’t create the conditions that brought us here, we can help fix it. Being an American is about us living up to an ideal, after all we are the land of the free, home of the brave. It takes bravery to live boldly in a world where people poke at our fears. It takes courage to make decisions for your life that go against the grain. It pains me that not everyone in this country enjoys the respect and freedom they are owed simply by being a wife, daughter, grandparent or child, or an American. People trample on the freedom of others in dysfunctional relationships and homes as much as the do on the city streets.
The Limits of Freedom - How to Live In Harmony
Contrary to what many people around us think these days, freedom has limits. My dad would often say, "Your freedom ends where mine begins." I always knew what he meant: that my freedom was important, but I also had to respect the freedom of others and do my best not to encroach upon it. If someone else's freedom began to interfere with mine, that's where the other person's freedom needed to end too. It's a slippery line, and sometimes a difficult balance to strike, but my dad taught me that this was how to live in harmony. All relationships work better with harmony. The factions in our families and in our communities could certainly be improved with harmony. Disharmony sows frustration, sadness, and even anger in our minds and makes it difficult to see a new day. It digs a hole so that bad things persist unchanged. Disharmony distracts us from our worthy pursuits. We spend more time on it, at times, than we do working on our dreams.
What Is Harmony In America?
To be in harmony means to be in agreement or of one accord. It doesn't mean that everyone has to think the same or act the same. In the United States, harmony can be achieved by accepting the truth that our freedom is not absolute. It has limitations simply because one person's freedom ends where another person's begins. I don't get more freedom than you, and you don't get more freedom than me. This is the only way that everyone can be free at the same time and live in a safe and just society.
Imagine if we could get in harmony about the idea that the same freedom is owed to every law-abiding American simply because we are Americans.
What if we agreed that every American is owed a level playing field, clean water, healthy food, education, a safe home and street, dignity and respect? That every individual should be judged on his or her own merit not lumped into categories or groups based on the color of his or her skin, nationality or gender? What could we accomplish if we'd simply use the freedom we have to get in harmony about freedom for the people who have been left behind or victimized instead of denying their stories of inequality or disparaging their names (or memory) by turning them into memes on social media?
What Can We Do to Live Harmoniously
Here are a few things we can do to create more harmony around us:
Acknowledge fear mongering, hateful, racist, elitist or sexist views as harmful and unproductive;
Be careful about following "the tribe" and lead with fairness and truth instead of following those who only care about themselves;
Take responsibility for our actions and forgive ourselves for the way we might have disregarded others in the past - and do better;
Allow others to make mistakes and be human and treat them with the respect that we want for ourselves; and
Insist that others should have the same rights that we hold: to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This alone won't repair the chaos in the world, but these are small steps that we can begin today. Harmony can help us create a truer, freer, more peaceful existence where we have more room to give life to our dreams. We all deserve that opportunity.