Listen to the music. The melody is strong, predominate, easy to hear. Hum along. The harmony complements the melody. It’s more difficult to pick out, and yet, we enjoy how full and pleasant the music sounds. Melody alone feels too empty, too hollow, too incomplete. Sameness does not produce harmony in the music world. To bring harmony, you must be on a different, complimentary note.

Why then do we insist on being on the same note in order to have harmony in families, communities, and organizations? It appears that we’ve missed the point of harmony. People singing in harmony are in tune with each other, while singing different notes.

In order to step into harmony, not sameness, I must be present — hear what is really being said; fight the tendency to react to what I think is being said; and dig deep to understand. When I peel back the layers of politics, theology, emotion, I can find the heart of the issue. It’s likely that I will uncover fear, shame, anger, things I can definitely identify with. Some where in the middle of being very present, I can uncover the humanity that we both share. We may come at life completely differently — see things from opposite angles, disagree on fundamentals, and yet I can see and value the beauty in you.

If I enter every conversation looking for the beauty in you, if I pause to truly hear what motivates you, I can find a note to stand on that complements your note. It requires me:

1. to not take offense. I can literally choose not to be offended. Taking offense is a choice! I must push past the bravado, the emotion, the passion to uncover and honor the core values that drive you.

I choose.

2. to believe there is beauty or good in you. Whatever I am looking for, I will likely find. If I assume you are bad, wrong, off in some way, that is what I will find, which makes believing there is beauty so much more inviting.

I believe.

3. to care enough about humanity to do the work of harmony. We are an individualistic society. We’ve lost track of the fact that we live in community. What I do effects you and what you do effects me. Anger and division are easy places to go — all it takes is a knee jerk reaction. Doing the work of harmony requires intention, reflection, and growth on my part.

I care.

“Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.” Sallust

Pause and listen to the music. It’s the relationship between the two notes that creates the harmony. The harmony makes it rich and full. Find harmony.