In a country that often feels divided politically, One Small Step (OSS) offers a glimmer of hope. Three months into its inception in Columbus, Georgia, OSS has made waves locally, bringing together strangers with opposing political views to foster understanding and build connections, with over 70 conversations recorded there to date. We sat down with Joel, a Columbus native, to hear his perspective on participating in an OSS conversation.
Can you share an anecdote from your OSS conversation that stood out to you?
My partner’s comments at the very end of our 50-minute chat really impacted me and I’ve shared them with friends and family. He said that he was impressed he could talk to “an older gentleman from Georgia” about controversial topics like gun control and military service and not get upset with my responses. We shared memories of our military service, our common hobby of archery shooting, and even some similar Biblical context for our lives. I came away from the total experience uplifted, encouraged, and even chuckling.
How does OSS contribute to bridging political divides and promoting understanding among people with different views?
To me, the process sets safe guidelines for open discussions and encourages people to listen to those who are very different from us and our expectations. Focusing on what we have in common, expecting differences, and setting aside fast judgments opens the door to real connections.
How do you think OSS can benefit Columbus?
Columbus can benefit from the OSS approach by seeing the good that comes from focusing on our everyday experiences, our shared dreams, and the things that we all wish for ourselves and our families. Taking that approach and learning a step at a time, we can begin to chip away at mistrust, misunderstandings, and unfounded biases that so often separate us. OSS can also allow us to share more freely in the good things our community offers and allow us to accomplish more together than when resources are divided.
To Columbus and beyond, I’d say look at this as a low-risk, fun, and easy way to get to know yourself and others in our community. This kind of work can help us address the problems and challenges in our community without us attacking each other and squandering our time and energy on ineffective and unproductive efforts. In the future, the foundations of trust we lay now can be used to move our city forward and make it a place we can all be proud to call home.
To participate in a conversation in Columbus, visit takeonesmallstep.org/columbus.