Like probably everyone in this country, I’ve been struggling with some despair over how fractured our society has become. In my 30 years in the political business I’ve never encountered such a lack of civility and, worse yet, empathy. We have all retreated to our bubbles of sameness, choosing to associate with people of the same color, ethnicity, religion and political views. I confess to my culpability on this front as well. I don’t think there is anyone among my “friends” on Facebook with whom I disagree.
So…in light of this divisiveness I’ve come up with a call to action for myself, a mission of sorts. I’ve identified a couple of demographic groups with whom ostensibly I have little in common. I’m choosing to (1) make eye contact, (2) smile in recognition of our mutual humanity, and (3) exchange a few pleasantries. Even though we are strangers, I can go out of my way to treat people who are different than myself with a measure of respect and dignity. I can’t remember whether this thought occurred to me before or after the election or even as a New Years’ Resolution. The upshot is…I’m enjoying these little exchanges with my fellow humans. This probably sounds obvious. Of course this is what we should do and I know so many of you are already behaving in this manner. But I think it has grown increasingly easy to isolate ourselves within our comfortable communities and bury our attention in our smart phones.
“Let’s Serve As God’s Proxies.” This is a line I recently stumbled upon. While I don’t consider myself to be overly religious, I like the implication of this phrase. I think it applies to the mission described above. I would love it if readers might consider choosing one or two subgroups whose members do not necessarily look like themselves perhaps due to…
(1) racial or ethnic differences- how might an evangelist approach an atheist?
(2) language barriers and country of origin differences
(3) different social and economic circles and values
(4) age differences-
Older or younger; maybe those millennials aren’t really as “entitled” as you surmised
(5) occupational differences-
Can a carpenter connect with a chemical engineer or a lawyer with a landscaper?
(5) Physical differences-
Do we tend to avoid people with noticeable physical differences? skinny or heavy, tattooed or not, wheel chair restricted or an athlete?
The list of opportunities is as endless as they number of people in our universe. Just locate your complimentary groups and start saying hello. I think even these little acts of acknowledgement and kindness can “count” as serving as God’s proxies in the world.