Last weekend I was flipping through the television channels and came across an intriguing segment on NBC News’ Meet The Press. Moderator, Chuck Todd, was discussing holiday shopping and where self-described conservatives and liberals would purchase gifts based on the results of a consumer study conducted by Simmons Research.
According to the survey, conservatives would shop at stores like Belk, Hobby Lobby, Academy, Sam’s Club, Dillard’s, Talbots, Stein Mart, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Comparatively, liberals would shop at J.CREW, H&M, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Gap, Forever 21, Sephora, Banana Republic, and J. Jill. While these findings are oversimplified and may not hold true for many of us, in terms of where we prefer to shop, Todd pointed out something really interesting: not a single store showed up on both lists. So, I guess that means we can say conservatives and liberals can’t even agree on where to shop for gifts.
All kidding aside, we have become a polarized nation politically. Both Republicans and Democrats, especially at the national level, seemingly have drawn a line in the sand with little intention of giving up ground or coming together to peacefully collaborate for the greater good. For our country to thrive, though, we must find a way to put our differences aside, in order to find common ground and mutual understanding that will lead to progress. And the perfect avenue for setting this in motion is volunteerism and community service!
As former Mayor of Miami, Florida, Manny Diaz, pointed out earlier this year at a Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club signature event, the best way to build relationships and find common ground is through community service and working together in times of calm. That way, when times of conflict arise, friendships, trust, and mutual understanding have already been established; and peaceful, productive conversations can then take place.
This tenet transcends politics and holds true for all of us in the Mid-South. Volunteerism and community service can galvanize our city! It can erase stereotypes and change the way we see, hear, and interact with each other. The more we serve together, the more we know each other; and the more friendships we forge, the more progress can be made. As we look ahead, let’s make 2016 a year of service and understanding!