A hateful message directed to a Muslim man running for Congress in Virginia had an unexpected consequence: a friendship.

Qasim Rashid, who’s running in Virginia’s Congressional District 1, recently received a message, “We do not need you(r) ilk in our nation. Let alone in any seat of office above street sweeper.”

Ordinarily, most people—particularly a political candidate—would ignore such words. However, Qasim, who was born in Pakistan, educated at the University of Illinois (Chicago), and is the author of The Wrong Kind of Muslim , isn’t just any political candidate. Instead, he’s curious about humans and he operates with a compassionate heart.

Thus, when Qasim checked out the Facebook page of Oz Dillon, who wrote the intolerant words, Qasim found other hateful comments. However, there was something else on the FB page: Oz’s wife was battling various health issues and had racked up more than $20K in medical debt. Oz had set up a GoFundMe page for help in paying off that debt.

That’s when Qasim’s compassion and willingness to cross the great divide kicked in. In a message to his 400,000 followers, Qasim wrote, “My faith teaches me to serve all humanity. So I’ve donated $55 to his GoFundMe. Please donate if you can.”

Qasim’s appeal worked—his followers gave more than $20,000, so much that Oz shut down the GoFundMe page earlier this week. He wrote on the page, “You all have humbled me beyond belief. We are shutting this fund campaign down, because we are now in a better position to gain control of our lives back. Bliss & blessings to all.”

But the story doesn’t stop there. Rather, Qasim and Oz had a meeting after Oz asked for forgiveness for his hateful message. Qasim’s response: “Absolutely, there’s nothing to forgive. You’re my brother in humanity.”

Qasim and Oz have since met several times. And oh yeah, there’s now a darn big sign for Qasim’s election in Oz’s front yard! Click here for the story!

Friends: we can do this, we too can bridge the great divide. It takes breaking the tit for tat Othering we’ve become accustomed to and replacing that with compassion and kindness. It’s that simple!