In the past two years, our nation has arguably suffered more blatant division and polarization than it has confronted in decades. And with a societal framework that has the capacity to turn partisan lines into bitter rivalries, we might fear those who are different than ourselves.
We might feel compelled to distrust our own neighbors, coworkers and even those we encounter in the grocery store aisles. If they don’t share our cultural norms and ideologies, too often, we’re tempted to view them with suspicion.
And still, many Americans are also determined to look prejudice right in the face. Sure, these institutionalized forms of bias have caused us to experience friction with one another, sometimes on implicit or unconscious levels. But the story doesn’t conclude here—it continues with a hope that we can rewrite the next chapter in love and acceptance of our equal humanity.
Instead of allowing our differences to thrust a wedge between us, we can choose another option. We can embrace the unity in this full-spectrum of diversity. The fact is, all humans are welcome at the table of community. Each of us represents a strand on the unique, vibrant, colorful tapestry that makes this nation an extraordinary place.
For that reason, the onus to resist discrimination is ours alone. We are accountable for harmonizing this country across all perspectives, backgrounds or affiliations. We can choose to treat one another with basic respect and dignity. We can resolve to change the discourse.
But we need to remember that people are defined in terms of their character and individualism—whether they are black or white, male or female, refugee or citizen, Muslim or Christian.
Socially constructed labels cannot begin to encapsulate the intricacies of a human soul. From the most powerful and affluent to the most overlooked or disenfranchised, we all add value. We all bear significance. We all can yield an impact. We all matter.
If these are intrinsic beliefs we strive to uphold about each other, then it’s time to mobilize some action behind the conviction. And as with any undertaking, it starts at the grassroots.
So we need to listen to the accounts of those who don’t share our worldviews and learn from those whose narratives we don’t know enough about. We need to start looking people in the eyes and affirming their worth instead of deflecting our attention from that which we don’t personally understand.
As stewards of the cultural fusion that is our American experiment, we need to behave like true United States. The well-being of future generations will depend on the harmony we reclaim in the present.
So as the lessons of 2018 become a launchpad for the possibilities of 2019, just imagine if our combined New Year’s resolution was to love each other with the radical, fanatical abandon of a movement poised to soften—and strengthen—the course of our history.
Politics aside, that is a cause we can all march behind.