I wanted to share something as we all Vote today.
It's something I have learned by spending the past two years crisscrossing America, exploring this ominous and strange divide with which America finds itself engaged and enraged.
From Ketchikan, Alaska to Clearwater, Florida; from penthouses of NYC to tent cities on the Venice Beach boardwalk; from big cities to tiny towns that stretch out in the vastness between the "Coasts." I have spoken with hotel clerks and uber drivers; panhandlers and professors; factory workers and financiers. Thousands of conversations about one thing:
Why do you believe what you believe?
The biggest lesson I learned from all that traveling applies very poignantly today as we vote.
As I spoke with more and more and more Americans, I was continually shocked by their truest diversity: the diversity of thought which quite often didn't line up with their most obvious "labels." That their way of thinking is the result of innumerable, deeply-personal moments that they have experienced living their life. Not yours. Theirs. I encourage you not to make the mistake of assuming you understand another person's thinking because of the labels you project onto them.
And as I listened to stories of deeply-impacting childhood adversity; of dreams 'changed' because of life's unforeseen hurdles; of hard-fought/hard-won life-lessons, I realized no one's life is easy. No one's. That there are scars from life and dreams for life that the eye can't see as it scans any given room, looking to affix labels.
And I promise you the sum of all those experiences and thoughts cannot be categorized into one of two sides: Team Us & Team Them. No matter how neat-and-tidy it would make it all seem.
As I have ping-ponged between worlds and sides, I kept thinking that if you all had the opportunity to be in the same room together - and could talk honestly and openly without fear of snap-judgments and retribution - you'd see that you really are NOT as divided as you think. So many of the frustrations are the same. So many of the problems are shared. Even your hopes line up with one another.
Today you will have that opportunity as you find yourselves in crowds of completely equal Americans. One human being in line behind another.
Today you will have that opportunity as you find yourselves in crowds of completely equal Americans. One human being in line behind another. And as you wait to vote - even if you're going to vote angrily - do NOT waste the increasingly rare opportunity to engage one another as people who SHARE a country. Because, I believe, if you REALLY want the best shot of tackling the greatest problems we share don't just look for solutions on the ballot. Look to the people who are casting their votes to your right and to your left - both literally and politically.
Smile. Make eye contact. Make conversation. Talk as neighbors because you are, even if you have led very different, but equally-worthy lives.
I promise you, it's SO easy to find connection, if you look for it.