What is common ground? Once in talking to others we leave people in our own set, social or political or religious or whatever, we often find that we have little in common, not because all people obviously do not have a great deal in common but because what we choose to talk about — our concerns, our lives, our hopes and fears — are perhaps the same in general but not in specifics.

Many men are more concerned with sports than anything else, not realizing that talking about sports is a way of avoiding talk about meaningful things and also a way of avoiding embarrassing contact with other men. One's favorite football or basketball team is not really our major concern but talking about it is a way of relating in a meaningless way with others and avoiding what we really care about. We can talk about our wives or partners but rarely in a meaningful way. We can talk about our children but that becomes either bragging or complaining but not about how these concerns make us feel.

Women may here do better than men in making meaningful contact with other women. They seem often less inhibited by difficult subjects and less prone to embarrassment under the right circumstances.

So, coming to political discussion, there is little chance of anything but clichés and gut feelings to expect and these do not really tell us much. We can agree or disagree but only superficially. The real reason for all this negativity on my part? It is impossible for people to relate to one another in an honest way. Therapy is a possible way of overcoming this but it rarely succeeds. Every man is an island.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.