This story is part of a new StoryCorps project called One Small Step, which seeks to remind people across the political divide of our shared humanity.
In a recent interview with StoryCorps, two strangers, Tiffany Briseño, a social liberal, and Israel Baryeshua, who identifies as a conservative, came together to find common ground despite their opposing political views.
Baryeshua is a single parent of two who says he beat the odds by rising out of poverty in Georgia. Briseño, a mother of three, is concerned about how the divisive climate will affect her multiracial family.
They found common ground in how they parent their kids to understand the value of hard work.
"I tell that to my children, Baryeshua said. "It comes from within."
"And [that is] something that I also convey to my children," Briseño says. "My parents grew up with nothing. My mom didn't have shoes, didn't have food, that kind of thing. And she ... put herself through college as a single parent."
Baryeshua asks Briseño what her biggest fears are concerning the future.
"I am just really nervous for my kids," Briseño says. "Like I feel like, right now, everything is just mean and nasty."
Baryeshua agrees. "Instead of reacting with kindness or compassion, people are quick to react with, I guess, hate."
Briseño asks if there's one thing he respects about the way she sees the world.
"No," Baryeshua says, and they share a laugh. He then adds: "I think you said that you want the best for this country. I respect that view, and I agree with that view."
In return, she tells him that she respects that he's a "hard-working single father" who wants what's best for his children. "I think that that's commendable and common between you and I, for sure," Briseño says.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Kerrie Hillman and Mia Warren.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It is Friday and time again for StoryCorps. Today we bring you a conversation between two strangers. It's part of a StoryCorps initiative called One Small Step, which brings together people on opposite sides of the political divide in an attempt to find what they can agree on. Tiffany Briseno identifies as liberal. Israel Baryeshua, a conservative. They sat down together in Denver, Colo.
ISRAEL BARYESHUA: I'm a single father. I have two children. I actually grew up in Griffin-Spalding County. If you're born in that county, you have, like, a 16 percent chance of getting out of poverty. So I'm, like, the 16 percent, and I tell that to my children. There's no excuses. It comes from within.
TIFFANY BRISENO: And something that I also convey to my children. My parents grew up with nothing. My mom didn't have shoes, didn't have food, that kind of thing. And, you know, she's the one kid that put herself through college as a single parent.
BARYESHUA: Yeah. When you think about the future, what are you most scared of?
BRISENO: I am just really nervous for my kids, right? Like, I feel like right now, everything is just mean and nasty.
BARYESHUA: Right, instead of reacting with kindness or...
BARYESHUA: ...Compassion, people are quick to react with...
BARYESHUA: ...I guess hate...
BARYESHUA: ...Or anger and not just like me and you are doing, is sitting here talking and try to understand...
BRISENO: Is there one thing that you respect about the way that I see the world?
BRISENO: Fair enough.
BARYESHUA: I'm just kidding. I think you said that you want the best for this country. I respect that view, and I agree with that view.
BARYESHUA: Is there anything that you respect that I said today?
BRISENO: That you're a hardworking single father that wants what's best for his children, and I think that that's commendable and common between you and I, for sure. So...
BARYESHUA: Thank you.
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MARTIN: Tiffany Briseno and Israel Baryeshua, two strangers talking about what unites them. It's part of the StoryCorps One Small Step initiative. Their interview will be archived along with hundreds of thousands of others at the Library of Congress.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.