Sitting in the bleachers, about 50 of us watched in silence as kids proudly paraded their horses through the arena. One at a time, they competed for ribbons in showmanship, a category where winning revolves around things like poise, control of the horse, and cleanliness. As the show progressed, one group stood out to several of us: the 8-year-olds. Quite a sight to see a 3-foot-something controlling a 1,000 lbs beast. Midway through the show we noticed a small crowd gathered off to the sidelines. We learned that a child was lying there face-down and not moving. Turns out she got bucked off her horse while waiting for the next round to begin and landed on her hip. Thankfully she was conscious when the EMT's arrived, but just goes to show how powerful horses are.
I'd never been to a showmanship competition before, so I'm possibly the only person on the planet who (during one) thought, "Wow, this is so similar to life in the big city!" My brain raced, apparently making connections to my former homes of Houston and Boston, as well as other cities I'd visited like Seattle and New York. The goals of the showmen and, say, a wealthy financial analyst are similar in a way: they both try to domesticate things much bigger than themselves. Perhaps you caught the swath of news stories about Goldman Sachs allegedly selling mortgage-backed securities that they knew were bad. So whether it's equestrian or economy, both can capably crush a person.
I'm starting a series of blogs I'm calling "Common Ground." The goal is simple: to find commonality between unlikely places or peoples. Seems like common ground is as good a first step as any to build bridges between people groups that haven't connected well in the past. Inspiration is drawn from the experiences of other's and my own, where great things have happened when we choose to build friendships with people groups different from the one(s) we come from. Scientist Matt Ridley published an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago. He argues that human advancement was stagnant for millions of years, but then skyrocketed in the last 45,000. Why? The answer is surprising:
The answer lies in a new idea, borrowed from economics, known as collective intelligence: the notion that what determines the inventiveness and rate of cultural change of a population is the amount of interaction between individuals.
So, you know, take it for what it's worth, but hopefully I'll learn some fun things to try out over the next few weeks.