Escaping the comfort zone bubble

Published 11:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

It has been a true education for me during my first year as a public servant in Jackson. The most important thing I have learned is that we would all benefit from briefly escaping our comfort zones and start looking outside of our bubbles.   

Many of us, myself included in the past, subconsciously look for news sources, friends or acquaintances that reinforce our views, so we feel justified. The unfortunate consequence is that we seldom get to fully appreciate what happens in another person’s shoes, or understand that we are all a little different and it is really OK.

My recent epiphany came from running for office, through the process of knocking on thousands of strangers’ doors, participating in exchanges on social media and having accidental meetings in coffee shops and stores.

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They reminded me that we all come from different families, backgrounds, good and bad life experiences.  It does not have to be that one must be wrong to make us right.

It is also definitely not all about politics  — or shouldn’t be. While some of us focus on the latest political issue, the majority of our neighbors are worried about totally different issues inside their homes, from food and utilities to mental health and family crisis.

If you are reading this at all, you are fortunate not to be among the 10 percent of Mississippians of all races, religions and geographic regions who cannot read or write.  Do we really think they chose to not want to read or write?

If you are reading this online, you are in the 59 percent bracket.  A full 41 percent of your fellow Mississippians of all races, religions and geographic regions do not have any internet access in their homes.

If you reading this is a newspaper you purchased, you are in the 10 percent bracket of those Mississippians who actually have the spare money and time to purchase and read one.

If you and your family members are able to buy food, medicine and utilities without the benefit of some state or federal assistance, you are also very lucky in Mississippi.

What do we do about those outside of our bubbles — those with a different religion, race, economic standing or even lifestyle?

What is the goal? Really? Do we hope if we ignore them they will go away? Or, do we think that they will start doing like we do so we will be more comfortable?

The simple reality is that they won’t.  They are just different from us.  And, that is really OK — or it should be.  It does not make different evil — just different.

There is so much in life that matters more than politics and parties. Going outside my bubble has made me realize it, and grow because of it. Take a chance and reach outside your bubble, and consider lives instead of rhetoric and sound bites. You just might be surprised who benefits from it.

jay hughes is from Oxford and is the House District 12 Representative.