If you’ve been paying attention to what’s being posted on social media lately (and really, how can you not?), then you know we’re all pretty focused right now on the things that divide us. But a new video shared by Walmart this week might just change your mind about the divisiveness that seems to be sweeping our country — or at least sweeping our newsfeeds.
And if it doesn’t change your mind? Well, it may just give you hope.
The 60-second ad is titled Many Chairs. One Table, and it starts with a clip of a middle-aged white man scooting his office chair down a busy city street. The visual immediately grabs your attention and pulls you in — after all, you don’t usually see someone pushing their desk chair through traffic.
Next, we see a young man leaving his apartment building, while carrying a dining room chair. Shortly after, the video pans to a couple walking along a rocky beach carrying folding chairs; then to two women attempting to build chairs and then carrying them, while walking down the street arm in arm.
In the short clip, we see all kinds of people — dark-skinned, light-skinned, young and old — carrying all kinds of chairs in all kinds of settings. Across fields of cabbages, through the woods, over bridges.
An older white man sits on the porch of his farmhouse, watching the procession of chairs with interest. He grabs his wicker chair, leaps off his porch and shakes hands with a young man and they head off together.
Toward what, I wondered as I watched the video, enthralled with all the different people with all the different chairs. Where are they going and what does all of this journeying symbolize?
And then, all at once, it becomes clear: The people who’ve journeyed from near and far suddenly come together at one long table, beautifully set and covered with delicious food. Everyone pulls up their chair and begins to fill up their plate, relishing the companionship and sunshine.
We all come from different places. Our chairs look different. We look different. But at the end of the day, our needs are the same: We all want to eat good food. To rest and nourish ourselves. To be validated and accepted by other people who might come from different walks of life and sit in different chairs.
The video bears Walmart’s branding, but there’s no accompanying advertising message. It isn’t trying to sell you tires or school supplies or throw pillows. In fact, it’s not really trying to get you to buy anything — but it does give you all the feels and make you think.
The accompanying caption on Walmart’s Facebook page is simple and to the point:
“We’re a place where 140 million people gather every week, and our stores are part of the fabric of communities all around America. Inspired by what we are hearing from many of our customers and associates right now, we recognize and celebrate the importance of coming together despite our differences.”
Does a minute-long video about chairs really solve all the problems of the world? Of course not. There’s still racial tension, bigotry, bullying, divisiveness, and intolerance. There’s still a whole lot of mean and ugly out there.
But just maybe, this visual of people coming together despite their differences is a seed that will take root in our hearts and minds. Maybe the next time we want to tear someone down for not thinking the same we way do, we’ll look for some common ground. Common ground leads to understanding, after all, and perhaps a dose of this message of inclusivity is what we need to start whittling away at the mean and ugly parts.
No, a short feel-good video isn’t going to fix everything. But it’s certainly a start.