“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln warned. And yet here we are. Whatever your position on the outcome of the presidential election, there’s one thing we can all agree on: the country feels divided.
Navigating the strong emotions on both sides with friends, colleagues, family members, and neighbors is an exercise fraught with danger. The air is heavy with a sense of estrangement from our fellow Americans. After the damage of a polarizing election, how can we put down our swords and reach out our hands? How can we replace the feeling of rupture with one of repair, built upon the belief that there’s more that unites us than divides us?
Step one: volunteer.
No matter who you are and where you come from, you can and should volunteer, for reasons extending far beyond moral duty. Volunteering is the great equalizer, breeding camaraderie and a shared vision for a common goal. It puts people together who may otherwise never cross paths, fostering opportunities to bond around what we do agree upon rather than keeping us separated by what we don’t.
In the process, volunteering lets us exercise our citizenship in ways that improve our communities and help us become more vested in the outcome. Volunteering unites us with our fellow citizens from all backgrounds and together experience the empowering feeling of making a difference and generating real social impact.
Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, developed a plan for how to leverage civic engagement as a tool for healing and hope. The day after the election, Points of Light launched SERVICE UNITES, an online platform and campaign that’s using volunteerism to bring us together. The appeal is for all Americans to sign the pledge to unite and serve, and then share their stories with #ServiceUnites.
Causecast was amongst the initial organizations that Points of Light asked to get involved in this campaign, and we’re proud to invite our network to join us in signing up to pledge our service this year. As Points of Light observes through an anonymous quote on its website, "Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year. But when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in."
This isn’t the first time that Points of Light has promoted the power of volunteering to bridge divides. Their year-long One America campaign several years ago brought together rivals in politics with the goal of inspiring millions to unite in service to their communities. At the kick-off event, liberal political strategist Donna Brazile danced with former adviser to President George W. Bush Karl Rove. Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly rubbed shoulders with former adviser to President Obama David Plouffe.
Weeks later, President Obama and Points of Light Founder President George H. W. Bush joined dozens of service leaders from throughout the country at a White House event to present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award -- a volunteer recognition program begun by President George H. W. Bush in 1993.
If leading political partisans can come together around giving back, every ordinary citizen can, too.
No matter how much we may see the world through different prisms, volunteering brings one vision into focus. If you’re longing to reconnect with the people you disagreed with yesterday, take the #SERVICEUNITES pledge today.
Take the #SERVICEUNITES pledge to serve, to help someone in need and to create hope through service.
Invite someone to join you in doing good.
Share what you’re doing, what’s working or what’s inspiring you to promote #SERVICEUNITES.
I share the hope of Points of Light that every American citizen can find common ground through collaboration, even through the simple act of doing one good deed. Your country and community need this partnership now more than ever - and you do, too.