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Toxic Polarization in the Wild

Toxic Polarization in the Wild

The One America Movement is celebrating its fifth birthday! Along the way, staff members and special guests have written about the times they have seen toxic polarization in the wild. Once you understand how and why we became so divided, you start to see the symptoms of division—and the efforts everyday people are taking to bring us back together again.

Here are just a few of our favorite posts:

Harry Potter and Polarization

Neville, you see, is an “in-group moderate.”

In highly polarized societies, including in communities where divisions have turned to violence, one of the key roles in reversing those divisions is what social scientists refer to as “in-group moderates,” people who stand up against the worst impulses of their own side. They say, in effect, “Hold on, guys. I’m on your team, but we don’t want to do this.”

Image Source: DC Films Warner Bros.

What is the Right Way to Merge into Traffic

“I live in the Washington, DC metro area where traffic is notoriously bad. The other day, I was in the car with my husband when the route on my GPS app turned red. Immediately I saw tail lights ahead and traffic in my lane slowed to a crawl. We were about a half mile from our exit, and I could tell there was a problem.”


We Don’t Talk About Bruno

When the viewers finally meet the real Bruno, we find out how far off Camillo’s portrayal of him is. In fact, we discover how much of a hero Bruno is; he has stayed at the family’s house, working behind the scenes to keep the house intact.  Bruno could have chosen a different path — Both the town and his own family portray him as the villain, so he had every justification for leaving. But instead of listening to all those who did not understand his motives, he chooses family.  

Image Source: Disney

Lessons from The Batman

It turns out that even superheroes aren’t immune to what social scientists call motive misattribution. Motive misattribution is the idea that we act out of love, but others act out of hate. In other words, motive misattribution assumes the worst in other people. Instead of giving Alfred the benefit of the doubt, Bruce made assumptions and concluded that his lifelong friend was a liar. 

Image Source: Warner Brothers


Peace is a Five Letter Word

If you’ve ever been in a new place or situation, you may have experienced the quick pangs of anxiety.  Walking into a class, cafeteria, or meeting for the first time, you probably had a variation of these thoughts: Does my hair look okay? Did I choose the right outfit? Do they think I’m cool enough? Will I put my foot in my mouth?  Am I popular enough to sit at their table? 

Wordle is shaking everything up.


Why do we do the work we do?
We Belong Together

As the One America Movement celebrates this milestone birthday, CEO Andrew Hanauer reflects on the pivotal moments of the organization’s fight against toxic polarization in America.

Read more about the work we do at the One America Movement.


More stories from the One America Movement

Harry Potter and Polarization

Harry Potter and Polarization

The popular series Harry Potter has a lot to teach us about toxic polarization and what it means to be an in-group moderate. Neville Longbottom is an understated hero for those who long to stand up even when it’s hard.

The Strategy of Screwtape

The Strategy of Screwtape

Pastoral Advisor Tom Breeden presents an analysis of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. The science of polarization is weaved throughout this classic, and its lessons are a teacher for all of us.

We Belong Together

We Belong Together

As the One America Movement celebrates a milestone birthday, CEO Andrew Hanauer reflects on the pivotal moments of the organization’s fight against toxic polarization in America.

Will Smith: Protecting Sacred Values

Will Smith: Protecting Sacred Values

The slap heard ’round the world is an excellent opportunity for all of us to examine our sacred values and and how they play into fighting toxic polarization in our country.

Lessons in Leadership and Polarization

Lessons in Leadership and Polarization

A Candid Conversations interview with the One America Movement, featuring our chair emeritus, Afia Yunus, and our new Chair of the Board, Matthew Hawkins.

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