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.

At the same time, I recognized that I should not compromise my convictions and should defend my beliefs, when the time came for me to do so. While I would not go around preaching Christianity or conservatism, I would stand up for them, should the time arise. Nor would I allow anyone to shame me for my beliefs. But, I did learn to keep an open mind and listen to other opinions. One of the biggest presuppositions leftists hold of conservatives is that they are closed-mindedness and bigots. While nothing could be further from the truth, listening to others can help to shatter this stereotype, so that is what I did.

My experience at my local library taught me that although America is very torn between right and left, unity still exists. As Americans, we should unite around what binds us together. Simultaneously, we should thoughtfully discuss our differences and look for common ground. We may never completely agree on every issue, but we can celebrate our similarities and acknowledge our differences. We should seek to preserve the ideals that have made America so great while also seeking to improve certain aspects of our country.

At the end of the day, it is important to look at the bigger picture. America was built on compromises, and compromises continue to serve as an important part of the political system. Partisanship is not new to America; in fact, it’s been around since the 19th century. Today, we should remember what America went through to become the great country it is today. We should learn from the past and apply that knowledge to the future. While America has always been a diverse nation, it does not make us the Divided States of America—we are the United States of America.

By working in my local library, I saw this play out on a small scale. Together, as American citizens, we can stand united by accepting differences. We can also stand strong by holding onto our beliefs.

Katya P
Katya Pledger is a high school student who is thankful to be an American and is passionate about the Constitution, conservatism, and capitalism.

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