Several years ago, as a high school freshman, I started volunteering at my local public library. In my time there, I met many people who differed from me. I worked alongside Democrats, Socialists, and Atheists. Despite our differences, we still worked toward a common goal: serving the people of our community. Instead of focusing on the differences, we concentrated on our similarities. While our worldviews may have differed like night and day, we shared other values—like love for our community—or had similar experiences—like taking the SAT or applying to colleges. At the end of the day, we knew we were volunteers, Americans, people. We all worked toward a common goal. We all breathed the same air. We all lived in the same town. We enjoyed sharing stories or recalling memories we made at the library.
Not only have I worked with these people, but I have also fostered friendships with them. Although I am a Christian and a conservative, I discovered that friendships run deeper than political or religious beliefs. While I will not shy away from my convictions, I will not allow them to keep me from forming friendships with others, because their beliefs do not define their worth. We may disagree on some issues, but that does not make me more valuable than them, or vice versa. I had to remember to not de-humanize someone for thinking or acting differently than I did. Ultimately, everyone was created by the same God and has equal worth in His eyes, a truth I learned to hold onto more than I had ever before.