The media and political pundits say that we’re a Divided Nation and that America is Polarized. The story line plays out in the news on an almost daily basis. Depending on the day, week, or even hour, nearly every one of us rides the political rollercoaster of frustration, excitement, and stress.

However contentious the national climate, it does not mean that we have to follow suit in our own neighborhoods and communities. In fact, it would be helpful for each of us to take a few minutes; reflect on our surroundings, remind ourselves of our tremendous blessings, the importance of community and the respect we have for one another.

A recent experience put these suggestions to practice. My wife and I attended a friend’s baby shower in Salt Lake City. Nearly 30 people attended. As we sat around a very long table, enjoying good food and great company, I could not help but reflect on the experience. The expectant mother is a lesbian. The couple sitting across from me was from China. The individual sitting next to me, from the Ukraine. We had friends from: Greece, Armenia, India, the East and West Coast, locals, gays and straights.

As we visited, I could not help but appreciate each individual’s unique story. Many in attendance are immigrants who struggled, worked hard and anxiously waited to come to America; one had recently been granted asylum. This was not an orchestrated group of people, set up to meet diversity quotas, groupthink, or a particular political party or religion. This was a group who genuinely cares and has respect for one another joining together to celebrate a mother’s first child.

When I see and hear the tension amongst the opposing political parties, I reflect on that baby shower. It is a reminder to me that if we take time to understand one another’s unique story and experiences, we begin to see those on the other side of the table as valuable members of our community. We are less quick to judge. We do not look for differences, but for those things that unite us. We have more understanding, more empathy, and more respect for each other.

I hope you will join with me and strive to embrace those around us, regardless of political or religious affiliation or social standing. As long as political tensions exist at the national level, lets you and me demonstrate that Salt Lake City is better by smiling and waving to our neighbor, say hi to those in line at the grocery store, and welcome those moving into the neighborhood. Lets remember the reasons we choose to live in this great State and let us strive to better respect and honor the unique stories and experiences of those around us.

Scott Rosenbush

Scott Rosenbush, Salt Lake City, is a candidate for Utah House of Representatives from District 24.