Our nation has been stuck in a dangerous “us v. them” mindset for some time now. We also live in a moment where many Americans are exhausted by the politics of division and are looking for an alternative.

There is no doubt we need a new way forward where we begin to see each other and connect on a more personal level. Empathy can grow from a better understanding of our common struggles and a commitment to treat each other with more care and consideration.

This is the central message of a new public service campaign launched by the Ad Council this week, Belonging Begins With Us. The ads and campaign website prompt people across America to think about our need to belong and how it feels when you don’t.

The campaign asks us to consider who we include and exclude—often without thinking—in our daily lives. The website explores stories of people experiencing belonging and the power it has to make us feel welcome.

The timing of this public service campaign couldn’t be better. Studies show that the United States in particular faces stricter divides than many other nations. The 2020 presidential election and public response to the COVID-19 pandemic have made these divisions even clearer. Ignoring them can quickly lead to the exclusion and harassment of our own citizens.

The campaign ads build empathy by reminding us that we’ve all had moments where we felt like we didn’t belong.

The ads then turn to a central theme: “For those who moved to this country, that feeling lasts more than a moment.”

They then ask us to look deeper at our own neighbors—many of whom experience exclusion isolation, harassment, and even violence on the basis of their identity or immigration status.

This is unacceptable. To move to a better state of mutual care and empathy, we must welcome everyone who calls America home and ensure everyone feels a sense of true belonging.

We know that each of us has the power to make our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools more welcoming. That is why we must dedicate ourselves to fostering a more welcoming nation where everyone—regardless of their background—feels like they belong.

Visit BelongingBeginsWithUs.org to read real stories of welcoming and belonging from across the country, and find ways to get involved in your own community.