So I'm back in The States after nearly 15 months abroad, and one lesson I learned was that more unites us than divides us. Upon making this statement I was asked to explain. So I will here.
We all** are largely the same, regardless of arbitrary distinctions like race and the invented lines inside of which we were born. We have the same needs and desires. We like good food, good music, good sex and a good story. We have the same fears. There are people we love, and we want them to be safe and warm and cared for.
**And we all have a few exceptions to this: narcissists, sociopaths, powermongers and problem children who play upon the fears we all have to divide us from each other. People who manipulate us, using symbols, flags, gods and false nostalgia as proof that We are good and They are bad and if we aren't careful They will take what's divinely Ours and sully what is pure.
It's easy to buy into the false narrative. But there is an antidote.
Back in b-school I learned about Genchi Genbutsu, a management technique that basically means "go and see". You hear there's a problem? Go to where it is and see for yourself. I liked this idea very much, and applied it in my subsequent corporate consulting and strategerizing life. It applied equally well on the One Way Ticket.
Of course, not everyone can get their boots on, pull up lifestakes, and slum it in hostels searching for truth. I get it. In that case, I recommend seeking out dissonant voices. Get out of your echo chamber and comfortable messaging about who "They" are and how they don't share our values. And when you're fortunate enough to meet someone who has a weird name or different skin pigmentation or was born inside different manmade map lines, talk to them. Start with "hello" and a smile, just like you would with a friend or a neighbor.