Popping Bubbles and Breaking Barriers

June 7, 2018 2:31PM

There are many things about Beacon that have made me proud to work for this organization over the past couple of years. But at the top of that list is our team’s dedication to working with non-traditional allies and fighting for their economic freedom.

Much research has been produced about the United States’ social bubble problem. The majority of people live in neighborhoods, attend schools, date, and socialize with people of their same ethnicity, socio-economic status, and belief system. Not only that, but instead of using the vast amount of information that is accessible to us to become more knowledgeable and connected, Americans have chosen to select the bias with which they want their news delivered. And social media platforms have set algorithms to showcase the stories a viewer will most agree with. We’ve fully insulated ourselves.

The impacts of these facts on society are endless, but nowhere are they more felt than in the political realm where a recent poll found that 47% of Clinton voters had no friends supporting Trump and 31% of Trump voters said the same. I imagine that it is apparent to everyone that we are living through one of the most divided times in our nation’s history.

It’s very hard to understand the problems of someone you do not know and whose life varies drastically from your own, it’s even harder to feel true empathy for a plight that you do not understand or see in your own world. This leads to stereotyping, seeing people as a group instead of individuals, and the ability to cast whole sectors of a population as villains.

But perhaps most importantly, this phenomenon leads to missed opportunities to work together and affect meaningful change on important issues. It has long been my opinion that we agree on a lot more than we think we do. And while we occasionally have different approaches, we often agree on the problem and want a solution.

That is why we at the Beacon Center have worked so hard to bridge this gap. Over the past few years as I have served as the Center’s Outreach Director, I have had the distinct privilege of meeting people from all walks of life across our state. I have had the chance to fight for and with them, to work alongside them, and to build deep personal relationships with people who upon first glance you might think I have nothing in common with. Through this effort, we have been able to make significant gains in reforming our criminal justice system, reducing barriers to employment, and preserving people’s rights. I have been forever changed by these experiences and relationships.

As many of you know, I have accepted a new position as the national manager for Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and will be moving on from my time with the Beacon Center. But I know that Beacon will continue to break through social bubbles and break down barriers for all Tennesseans, and I assure you that I will continue to do the same in my new role. I hope that each of you will continue to help do that as well. Thank you for a beautiful and inspiring few years here.