No matter what side of the political spectrum you reside on, politics have become exhausting, divisive and saddening. Before you cringe at another “taking sides” political article, hear me out.
This could be the loud wake up call we need. The 2016 election revealed serious cracks in the economic, social and racial framework of this country. But we are a strong nation, and we’ve been through worse (see WWI, WWII, Vietnam, etc.). These cracks, more apparent than any other time in my 36-year-old life, present a unique opportunity for healing and action.
So what do we do when two pieces of land separate? We build a bridge and we cross that shit. We come together. We help one another, we smile and speak to those who look different from us — intentionally.
So build that metaphorical bridge and get to know your Muslim neighbor, your Mexican neighbor, your Black neighbor [insert anyone insulted in this past election here]. Or if you’re white and only have white friends, make an effort to get to know someone who doesn’t look like you. Same goes for anyone of any race, pull yourself outside your comfortable bubble and get to know someone who might come from a different socioeconomic background, section of town, etc.
I remember when I was wandering through a market in Kumasi, Ghana and as I made my way through the winding isles, I came across a child who jumped and started screaming when he saw me. The child didn’t hate white people, he just hadn’t seen a lot of people that looked like me. A perfect example of how, from a very young age, we fear what we don’t know — we fear the unfamiliar, people who don’t look like “us”.
So travel. Travel to places where the people look different from you, worship a different prophet and eat different foods. Quickly you’ll realize we’re really all the same. We have the same basic needs, fears and desires. We have more in common than not. Familiarity has this beautiful way of melting away fear and prejudice.
I also know I’ve gotten quite comfortable with all the luxuries we have in the U.S. — good infrastructure, consistent and reliable electricity, a decent political process, paved roads (unless you live in D.C. — haha) and hot water. These seem like RIGHTS in this country, but all you have to do is read a heartbreaking article about the war in Syria to know we shouldn’t take these things for granted.
So perhaps building bridges and sealing these cracks means you do something for others. I started by going to a meeting at National Community Church to learn what I can do to help refugees.
Finally, If you’re reading this article, it means you have internet access — likely on your fancy phone or computer, which means you have enough time and money to help someone else. So what’s stopping you? Do it! I’m lucky, you’re lucky. We are lucky here.
Change the narrative in this country. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. Share the love, build bridges and seal these damn cracks!