At a time when every aspect of our lives on every day highlights differences and division, Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy have written a powerful book, Unified, which I think is a “must read” for all of us. These two South Carolinians provide an intimate glimpse into their unlikely friendship that transcends differences and points to a better framework upon which to build as individuals and a nation. Their good sense, wisdom, and discernment look at the fundamentals of relationship as the source of hope and strength for understanding and reconciliation.
They both arrived as freshmen Congressmen from South Carolina in the chaotic and conflicted swirl of Washington DC. They each had a learning curve ahead in their new roles and began to have dinner together with several others as a way to navigate this journey. As demands impacted the group, it soon became only Tim and Trey meeting for dinner.
Those dinners together soon became an intentional regular part of most days for them. It was a time of purposefully getting to know each other beyond their differences, to utilize that knowledge to broaden each other’s perspectives, and to each become better as a result. They started with intentionally looking for common ground between them. How rare it is for that to happen when in the 24/7 news cycle we are continually bombarded with, we have no common ground from which to start.
Forged out of that relational building come many powerful truths expressed in their book from which everyone can grow and benefit.
“…politics is not going to change the nation. We will change the nation only by changing the condition of the human heart. And that can only happen through love. True friendship is born out of acceptance and unconditional love – a love that is consistent and intentional.”
“Unusual friendships are born of many differences: class, religion, background, education, or any number of other things. Trey and I started with a lot in common, as two introverted South Carolinians with a passion for justice, shared political views, a spiritual prism to inform our conduct, and a love for both the Cowboys and the Gamecocks. Unlikely friendships are easy when things are going well. But eventually you will be tested by some sort of conflict that strikes the fault line of your differences – the part of your friendship that makes it unlikely.”
One of the core principles that guided Tim and Trey’s growing relationship came from putting into practice a core principle from Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
The passion of the two authors became a common purpose of reconciliation that requires relationship, fairness, and self-awareness. In synthesizing their understanding one of the things that became clear was this:
“When you begin to look at people as individuals, when you listen to what they say and seek to understand where they’re coming from, you begin to realize we’re all different from the rest.”
Their passion and purpose extend beyond words into various forums and programs to invite others into what they have discovered.
At the close of the book the reader can join the challenge by participating in a program entitled The Friendship Challenge that includes videos and a six-week plan for cultivating reconciliation in your own community.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.