Today, I was part of a group of people, including two of our database programmers and a couple members of my company’s much-loved IT department , who went out for lunch together to enjoy some sushi. The sushi, I must say, was quite excellent, even if it is not a food that I normally eat, and even if it was a challenge to find only those fish that were clean to eat, like mackerel and salmon, given that there was a lot of unclean food  on the menu ranging from pork in the ramen soup (which I did not get) to lots of prawns and other unappetizing animals in the various sushi rolls. I did see some boiled mackerel that would be worth eating next time, as it was a half-fish sized fillet on rice. From what I could see, everyone enjoyed what they ate, even if the restaurant itself was overwhelmed by there being five checks out of six people eating. The food itself was tasty, and the conversation friendly.
At first, the conversation was mostly about work, but this was unsatisfactory to many of us who were looking forward to a lunch that would distract us from work. Yet few of us had ever socialized before out of work in a group, and we did not know if we all had something in common except for our work. Eventually, though, we realized that at least five of the six of us were gamers of one kind of another, with a fondness for role playing games and MMOs and military games and the like. So, after our initial discussions about work, and our initial dissatisfaction in figure out if there was anything else we could talk about, we eventually figured out what we all liked, and that was being skilled at games, with a taste for modification. I shared, of course, one of my few examples of computer savvy as a programmer, and that was modifying the autoexec.bat file of the computer I used that ran Windows 95 when I was in high school so that it would be able to run a Koei historical simulation game called Eye of Balrog, set in a fictional version of medieval Ireland, which I was able to do thanks to the counsel of a classmate of mine who knew that this file could be modified to increase the virtual memory capacity of the computer, allowing me to play the game despite a slightly subpar machine in terms of RAM capacity. I suppose it can be expected that in such a crowd, what we have in common will be something particularly nerdy and related to computers and technology.
When one is socializing in general, the question of having something in common is a critical one. There are times in my life where I have thought that a great deal of common ground existed between myself and others, only to find that much of the common ground vanished when there were differences in politics and in affiliation. This has been disappointing to me, since I would figure that agreements in terms of worldview and belief system should account for me, but what has often proven to be the case is that even though we shared a great many beliefs in common, what I viewed as merely political they viewed as being an essential aspect of worldview. As someone who has endured more than my fair share of time spent in the wilderness, in some state of exile, it seemed baffling to me that people who had long preached the need to trust in God were unable to trust God when it came to accepting what they viewed as political exile they did not deserve. Although these were people who cared not a bit for my own honor and dignity, which I care a great deal about, they were unable to countenance any sort of harm to their own dignity. Small wonder that I could find little in common with them when all was said and done.
Much depends on whether we are looking for something in common with others or areas of difference. I tend to think both are necessary for there to be a truly healthy relationship. It is our similarities that bind us together, so if other people are people that have the same sense of honor, the same commitment to decency and lovingkindness even when it is difficult and unpleasant to be kind and understanding and polite, the same commitment to communicate with as much respect and openness as possible, then a strong and lasting relationship of any kind can be built and maintained. However, at the same time, it is the differences that provide for learning opportunities, as well as the need for overall balance. Life would not be very much fun if everyone was like me, not fun for me nor for anyone else. Yet at the same time I know that the oddities and quirks in my own personality allow me to provide necessary balance wherever I find myself, and I also appreciate what others provide to my life through their own quirks and God-given gifts and abilities that I cannot easily find in my own life. And that is how it should be, people who are different, but with something in common, trying to find areas of mutual interest and satisfaction, able to enjoy company with people who are different enough to provide something worthwhile and distinct from what we already have in our own lives, but with something in common so that we can profitably and enjoyably spend time with each other before leaving to return to our usual mundane lives.
 See, for example: