With the first Republican and Democratic debates of the new year occurring this past week, I started reflecting on my own political journey. In a very partisan time, where mud is being slung at every candidate, I began thinking of politics a little differently.
This past semester I worked for a state senator in the Virginia Beach area.
On Election Day, I sat at a polling station from 10 a.m. until poll closing. I had handouts for voters and some snacks to keep me going throughout the day. Lucky to have sun and no rain, I greeted voters hoping to sway any last-minute undecideds. Around lunch time, I had a very nice grandma approach me and we engaged in a conversation. She commended me on taking my time to be out there and was concerned I didn’t have any lunch. I told her not to worry – I had snacks. Our conversation ended and she walked to her car. I munched on some fruit snacks as I greeted more voters for the next hour or so.
A little while later, a car rolled up, and in it was the grandma. She had returned with a burger, large fries, chocolate milkshake and chocolate chip cookie for my lunch. When I thanked her and told her she really didn’t need to do that, she said she hoped someone would have done the same for her daughter.
This really hit home for me because my grandparents live 3,000 miles away from me. But it was even more amazing to me because I had no idea what political party she identified with, but she felt the compassion to bring me a meal while I donated my time.
In a world where politics can often be nasty and malicious, I was reminded that at the root of it we’re all simply human beings who care for each other. Although we all may get into heated debates, humanity and compassion is more important.
After my surprise meal, my spirits were lifted and I continued to talk to many more voters. Once the sun went down it got a little chilly, and I was the only volunteer at the polling location.
A family had mentioned me needing hot chocolate, and I joked, “only a few more hours” in reply. Well, sure enough, a few minutes after voting they had returned with hot chocolate to get me through the last few hours of election day. I was truly shocked and grateful once again.
You could argue accepting food from strangers is dangerous in today’s society, but the real message to get out of this is: regardless of party lines and ideologies, we should be taking care of one another. After all, we are all simply human. Maybe if there was a little more compassion in politics, we’d get a few more things accomplished.