Each Friday morning, I share breakfast with a group of gentlemen at a local restaurant. The cast of characters isn't always the same; there might be as few as three of us present or as many as seven or eight, depending on the week. But the conversation is always entertaining and, although the food is always welcome, the meal is more about the fellowship.
It's a fairly diverse group. There's a pastor, a newspaper photographer, several gentlemen who've retired from a variety of careers. Politically speaking, there are three regulars whom I would refer to as liberals -- myself included -- and a larger number of conservatives.
I never know from week to week what the topic of conversation will be (and sometimes there will be three conversations happening at the same time), but I'm always certain that I will enjoy the discussion.
Sometimes we talk about sports. Most of the gentlemen in the group are Arkansas Razorbacks fans, but one is a die-hard LSU Tiger. That makes for some interesting talk during football season, but no one takes offense.
It's the same when the topic turns to politics. Although we don't agree on everything, we are able to talk about a variety of issues without feelings getting hurt or voices being raised.
I was introduced to this group by our photographer here at Carroll County News, David Bell.
At first glance, David and I wouldn't seem to have that much in common. We have very different views on politics and a variety of other subjects. David is a conservative and I'm a liberal. If he judged me strictly based on my political views, or vice versa, we would not be friends.
But when I came to Carroll County two years ago, knowing fewer people here than I could count on one hand, David was one of the first people to go out of his way to make me feel at home. He didn't care that some of my beliefs are different than some of his. He was simply a person showing kindness to another person.
Contrary to what national headlines would lead you to believe, contrary to some of the nonsense you see on social media, contrary to what some politicians on both sides of the aisle would tell you -- it's still OK to agree to disagree. It's still OK to engage in civil discourse. It's still OK to be kind to your fellow man.
P.S. Happy birthday, David.
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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.