South Carolina has an unlikely pair of legislators who have become close friends in spite of their apparent differences. Senator Tim Scott and Representative Trey Gowdy tell the story of their friendship in Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country. Both were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. They hadn't met before, but quickly became close friends, sharing meals and fellowship in Washington, a city where true friendship is hard to come by.
In a way, the "unlikely" part of their friendship doesn't seem all that unlikely. Scott and Gowdy represent the same state, and are both Republicans. As partisan as D.C. seems to me (as a decidedly unenlightened outsider), I would think that partisan labels overshadow all other affiliations. However, Scott is black and Gowdy is white. In South Carolina, they write that their grandmothers, who had much in common, never met and never would have been able to be friends. Now Scott and Gowdy share a friendship that previous generations would not have been able to share.
They don't write much about policy in Unified. They wouldn't disagree on much, but they do talk about their differing perspectives on the police. Scott has experienced unwarranted traffic stops on many occasions and shares the fear of the police with other black men that Gowdy and white men generally don't experience. When they do disagree, with each other or with lawmakers from the other party, they emphasize listening and appreciating the stories behind other people's perspectives.
Scott and Gowdy have modeled friendship in Washington, and have reached out together to others, cultivating an environment of mutual respect. They challenge all of us, no matter what walk of life, to pursue "unlikely friendships--friendships with people who, at first glance, it may appear we have little in common with." Such friendships have to be deliberate, and "born out of unconditional love and acceptance."
Unfortunately for us, Gowdy has decided not to run for reelection. Scott was appointed to the senate in 2013, and was reelected in 2016, so hopefully he'll be around for a while longer. Both of these gentlemen exemplify the attitudes and personalities we need in the halls of congress. Unified is a great way to get to know them and to learn from their example.
Thanks to Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary review copy!