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Finding Common Ground

It’s rather bluntly put in the King James Version: Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3. It’s such a wonderful advantage when a husband and wife can find themselves “on the same page” of most major issues.

Whether it’s matters of faith, or finances, or discipline, or even “where do we squeeze the toothpaste tube,” it’s worth giving every effort to find common ground.

And how do we find that common road upon which to cheerfully walk together? The “Two C’s” are simple: communication and compromise. We learn from one another. We bend where we can. We accommodate the other person’s point of view. We lower our voices in recognition of the reality that we are not always right.

I am always amazed that James Carville and Mary Matalin have managed to forge a stable and even happy marriage. Carville is a rabid, left-leaning Democrat, in 1992, the leading mastermind for Bill Clinton’s election campaign. In the same election cycle, Matalin was part of the Bush 41 reelection squad. They debated fiercely over the phone, at press conferences, and on CNN’s Crossfire. The night Clinton won, Mary Matalin was in a deep alcoholic despair, seeing this obnoxious balding Cajun on her hotel TV set, celebrating. She got him on the phone, called him “serpenthead” and hurled at him every other terrible epithet she could think of. Shortly thereafter, they got married and now seem to be very much in love. Somewhere in that political jungle, they have miraculously found some semblance of a narrow path to trod together.

I was amused a few years ago to hear Bill Press as a guest on the nationally syndicated Sean Hannity radio show. Press, a flaming liberal, was on the Hannity hotseat, hoping to promote the release of his newest book. What in the world could be their common ground? I wondered. Of course, the answer is simple. Press wanted to sell books and fatten his wallet. Hannity, who has a wallet too, wanted edgy, water-cooler-buzzing Nielsen ratings, which he could get by booking the feistiest guests he could find.

My instinctive cynicism waned just a bit when the two studio gladiators, eyeing each other with guarded fury, abruptly stumbled onto something. They both wanted the same things! Both men yearned for a world of peace where their children could grow up in safety. They wanted an economy that promised prosperity for the future, a nation that continued to gently radiate its ideals of freedom and religious liberty around the globe. (They still sneered at each other and tossed barbed rhetoric back and forth, though.)

Within our own marriages, it does indeed come down to realizing the common goals and the common good. Even if deep ditches of division are in the chosen path before us, we can walk together. The New International Version is probably more helpful: Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to do so?

David B. Smith writes from Southern California

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About David B. Smith

David B. Smith

writes from Southern California.

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