KCUR is part of StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative to bring together people of differing political opinions for real conversations. This is one we've chosen to highlight.
Mike Parker and Ellen Carmody met for the first time as part of KCUR and StoryCorps' One Small Step project, but they tackled heavy topics. Parker, a veteran with five decades of military and government service, asked Carmody, an assistant school principal, what she thought about mass shootings at schools.
"I think there's a sickness in this country," Parker said. "There might be a hardware problem, but I think there's a software problem."
"The fact that my students know what to do when there's a mass shooter but they might not necessarily know how to do their taxes — that bothers me a little bit," Carmody said.
Though both of them disagreed on the scale of how to deal with such issues, both agreed that there's a major problem with anger and conflict in American politics. Both fear that Americans have lost a shared sense of identity due to an overwhelming sense of division.
"I think we lose it in the noise," Parker said.
"Let's go back to quiet, man!" Carmody interjected.
"Let's go back to quiet and silence, there's so much noise that we lose it and forget who we are," Parker said.
Ron Jones is KCUR's director of community engagement.