In search of common ground

Illustration by Varoujan Froundjian

No. This is not yet another self-help manual on how to find harmony and peace in life. It is not a guideline on how despite ongoing uncertainties — which have become integral parts of our everyday lives — we may achieve serenity. This is instead an effort to find that emotional balance between events that fill our hearts with joy and those that cause immense discomfort. 

Just looking back over the past few weeks, what we as members of society at large experienced through the media is simply startling. First, horrible shootings, first in Gaza then in Santa Fe High School in Texas, simply painful to watch. 

Then, that most anticipated event of the year: the Royal Wedding. I have to admit that even though I was hardly looking forward to being entertained by the formalities, the rumors and the parade of hats expected at this wedding, I found myself very much inspired and moved by it. Watching the beautiful wedding ceremony and romantic display of emotions expressed by the handsome prince and his beautiful bride was simply breathtaking. 

And now, help me to put together these emotionally contrasting events and somehow make sense of the whole thing. Help me to figure out how to find that common ground between the horrors of the last weeks and the uplifting sensations of the Royal Wedding. I wonder how our minds cope with such pain and joy that overlap each other without even giving us a chance to catch our breath.

Yet, I keep reminding myself that I should stop being an idealist and hope for a perfect world. This would mean I should accept the horrible shootings and the beautiful Royal Wedding as natural expressions of life. Is that even possible? Maybe an experienced Zen monk can find harmony between horror and joy, but for me it’s an extremely tough challenge to accomplish. 

I don’t know about you, but as I was watching the graceful carriage carrying the newlyweds through the narrow roads to Windsor Castle, I had images of parents and students of Santa Fe, in the back of my mind. Maybe I should stop being so emotional and try to live the moment. Coincidentally, unlike previous school shootings, the tragedy at Santa Fe High School didn’t even receive proper coverage as the Royal Wedding came as a refresher to tell us, in a way, to forget the pain and get on with our lives. Or who knows, maybe the networks decided that too much sad news is not good for our health, and decided to shower us with the dazzle of the Royal Wedding.

I imagine each of us has our own unique way to witness and make sense of the events that take place around us. Some of us might have absolutely no difficulty taking in both the joys and the sorrows of life, as they are unavoidable. Or there are those who are able to simply ignore one event and focus only on the one that suits their individual taste and temperament. Then there are those who can simply turn off the TV and go for a long walk. I guess I belong to a group that is frustrated by the deterioration of human values and our inability to somehow to find an end to the conflicting issues that causes so much distrust and pain among people. 

Maybe the best approach will be to not make any distinction among all the news we hear. Instead, just to take in and absorb all news as part of our human story at large, hoping that each story whether happy or sad will somehow connect us to other humans providing very much needed understanding of those who might be living under totally different circumstances.

Fortunately, I did find some kind of resolution when it was announced that the Royal newlyweds had decided to forego the traditional wedding gift registry. Instead they were asking people to donate funds to provide sanitary pads to the poor women in India. What a fine gesture, I thought. The Royal newlyweds went beyond the splendor and touched the hearts of less fortunate people in the world. Also, besides this being a discreet gesture of charity, it was a message to raise awareness about those who are less fortunate and in desperate need for assistance. 

How I wish that each and every event that takes place around us, whether joyful or disturbing, could dissolve into a common ground, and that events could become a vehicle of hope, and directly or indirectly contribute toward the good of a whole society.


Varoujan Froundjian is a graphic designer, Photoshop artist, writer, cartoonist, information technology and wine expert who also drives a limousine for local livery. He can be reached at varoujanfroundjian@gmail.com.