Over the last decade or longer, political pundits and many in the media have prognosticated that American society is becoming increasingly polarized. Identity politics govern how we vote. We are sliced and diced demographically every which way—by income, education, sexual orientation, even by where we live. The list of what divides, so the story goes, is large and growing.
I think this analysis is greatly exaggerated and does not reflect the realities in many of our communities. We are not as divided as current party politics and its related punditry seem to imply. One of the best ways to understand this is to look at the strength and reach of the nonprofit sector here in Central Virginia. CNE’s 240-strong membership reflects this vividly. A quick review of CNE’s Member Directory will produce myriad examples.
The Paramount Theater draws attendance from Charlottesville as well as from Scottsville and from every educational level. My guess is that those who utilize the services of the Senior Center have voted for all kinds of politicians and have held wide varieties of political views over their many decades. Parents from all income levels and political views rely on the Boys & Girls Club. Many nonprofits survive on the strength of their volunteers who are composed of Republicans and Democrats, believers and atheists, PhDs and high school dropouts, straight folk and queer folk. Get the picture?
Examples of how our community relies on and supports nonprofits are almost countless—and so many of these organizations cut across divides others seem intent on emphasizing. We sometimes take for granted the impact nonprofits have on our lives—not only the essential services they provide, but also how they bring us together. Go take a look at CNE’s Member Directory and reflect on just how united we are.