An odd confluence of events recently made me reflect about the contrasts in American life today. The first was the crisis in Charlottesville, followed closely by a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. How could those wildly different events have any relationship whatsoever?

For a few tense days, I watched the video clips and media coverage of the anger, hate, and violence that rippled through the crowds in Charlottesville. Torchlight parades, marchers with guns at the ready, helmets, truncheons, violent clashes, a car ramming protestors — could it get any worse in our country?

I then went on a personal media blackout to attend a Sox game that we had obtained tickets for months prior. It was a great game — you know, the one against the St. Louis Cardinals with the triple play and the eight-run inning.

While there, I again observed the almost mystical connection that seems to happen among attendees at sporting events. It happens while singing the national anthem together, pulling for the youthful guest soloist doing her best to get through God Bless America, rooting for the little 5 year-old running the bases in a silly competition with the mascot, doing the Wave as it undulates around the stadium, applauding for the Iraq war vet being honored, or singing the Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth-inning break (where on Earth did that tradition come from?).

Have you felt it too? There is a positive energy that courses through the crowd — people of all stripes, with different incomes, different skin colors, different languages. We are drawn together in an upwelling of affinity that somehow knits 30,000-plus people together in that stadium. It’s as if that whole raucous and diverse audience acts as one big organism.

We sat down next to others in a short row of seats: a white guy rooting for the Cardinals, next to a visiting black guy rooting for the Cardinals, next to a white woman rooting for the Sox (me), next to a Jewish guy rooting for the Sox (my husband). Friendly waves of agony and ecstasy flowed back and forth between us as we watched our teams battle.

Those same Cardinals fans grieved when my husband missed the triple play that the Sox perpetrated on their beloved team (I had sent him to buy us some kettlecorn). Later, in a gesture of solidarity, the white Cardinal fan bought an extra beer for his black comrade at the concession stand because “the beer sales end in the seventh inning at Fenway.”

Isn’t this what life should be about? Finding the sweet spots of connection between ourselves and others in this fractious world? Unlike Charlottesville, there were no distinctions drawn at Fenway between “alt-right” and “alt-left,” blacks and whites, Christians and Jews, natives and immigrants. Just 30,000 people who found something to agree on (well, maybe less, if you count those pesky Cardinals fans).

At first blush, this observation can seem trivial — the two events are in no way equivocal. But we live in a time of polarization, where we should celebrate and replicate the moments of connection where we find them.

As a society we are edging steadily into polarization — our schools are more segregated, our communities and neighborhoods are evolving into clusters of people who look and think alike. We are less civically engaged and our community organizations struggle to find the volunteers necessary to keep them vital — remember the book “Bowling Alone”?

Some feel that social media is a new form of social connectedness. We can now maintain contact with many more friends and acquaintances than the old days, when one had to commit to placing a phone call or writing a letter to each of those friends. The downside of social media is that we choose a narrow band of people to interact with, avoiding the discomfort of communicating with strangers or acquaintances who look or think differently than us. And there are no filters on the faulty information flowing through social media, serving to drive us further apart, rather than pull us together.

Can we find more ways to talk face-to-face? Can we reach across our barriers and biases to those who are not like us? I for one will continue to seek out those odd opportunities of connectedness and communication that occur during moments of shared experience in our daily lives.

Lisa Miller, of Somerville, is a former legislator who served on the Health and Human Services and Appropriations and Financial Affairs committees.

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