How do we create real progress toward social justice and equality in a politically polarized community filled with so much infighting? The topics of our disagreements are captivating but matter little — while the temperatures of our arguments are unglamorous but matter greatly.

Prevailing hot social topics provide a timely backdrop to examine our social interactions and inspect them for kindness, inclusivity and mutual concern. Included in today’s community conversations are debates over Black Lives Matter and mask-wearing. Though seemingly unrelated, the respective opposing sides share some common threads. Egocentric ideologies are both fueling and condoning a growing sense of self-righteous controversy. When protests turn into destructive riots, these actions are akin to national self-mutilation.

With its current shortage of mutual kindness and respect, America fails to be great. Rhetoric to the contrary is illusory juxtaposed to the harsh and ugly scenes playing out in cities across the nation: Amid unprecedented national unrest and violence, Trump’s July claim that America “stands today as the … most virtuous nation in the history of the world” rings hollow.

America needs more acts of kindness. Let’s build on the recent “pay it forward” Dairy Queen experience. Perhaps we cannot afford to pay for the next person, but thankfully, increasing our concern for others does not require spending money. Similarly, let’s also ask ourselves, “What can I do today that will increase kindness and equality to those within my reach?” — then enact our answers.

We must stop viewing each other through the lens of comparison. We urgently need to find common ground, dig in and stop our infighting. No one is better or worse, more or less valuable because of skin color, ethnicity, education or economic status. Together we can decrease self-concern and increase mutual concern.

Lynda Maxfield, Bluffdale