Not long into her initial One Small Step conversation, Kim noticed something a bit uncanny. Here she was expecting to begin a discourse with her political counterpart, someone with opposing political points of view. But from the outset, the gentleman on the other end of the Zoom call was starting to seem eerily familiar and she was finding more similarities than differences.
Both were attorneys in their 50s. Both were the product of divorced parents and had long periods of estrangement from one of them. Both raised daughters named Elizabeth, who coincidentally struggle with ADHD.
“That conversation just kind of blew us both away,” she remembers. “We joked that whoever was in charge of making the One Small Step matches must have been private detectives. It would have been hard to predict how much we had in common as far as upbringings.”
From a macro level, Kim understood what One Small Step was all about and the value of connecting two human beings who happen to be on opposing sides of the political spectrum. When she heard StoryCorps Founder and President Dave Isay speak about the initiative at The Richmond Forum a few years ago, she knew immediately it was something she wanted to participate in.
But as the day grew closer to finally connecting with Eric, she began to contemplate a more personal, self-interested perspective. Could this conversation help her relate to other conservatives in her own life, people who share more of Eric’s political points of view than her own?
“My joke with Eric was that I was using him as a proxy to have conversations with Scott, my significant other, whose views tend to skew further to the right than mine,” Kim says. “In the heat of 2016 and elections, we had some pretty bumpy and intense conversations, so I thought talking to Eric could help me understand where Scott was coming from.”
When the dialogue meandered into politics, Kim found Eric’s views outside of what she might expect from someone who called himself a “Liz Cheney-type Republican.” His support for socialized medicine and a woman’s right to choose reminded her of the writings of Bryan Stevenson, the human rights attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative and is the author of Just Mercy.
“He [Stevenson] talks a lot about proximity, that if you’re proximate to people – you see their situations and issues up close – it’s much easier to understand them,” Kim says. “I think that is what has helped to shape Eric’s views. They’re based on his personal experiences.”
It’s been more than a year since Kim and Eric first connected, and they’re still talking, and in fact, they are already planning on meeting in person for the first time when, as luck would have it – they both will be in St. Louis this November.
“I’m hopeful we’ll get to meet him, and I think it would be very interesting for Scott to meet him, too. I imagine he and Scott will have a lot in common, politically and otherwise,” she says.