At the One America Movement, we believe transformation is only possible if we live the values we claim to hold. For us, as an organization that combats Toxic Polarization, those values include humility, honesty, and, for lack of a better phrase, being real. So let’s be real. This pandemic has been hard, and while One America as an organization has grown and thrived, the CEO (me) is just a person dealing with pandemic things.
Including writer’s block.
For me, being unable to write is a product of how expansive or restricted my brain feels. And it’s telling that one year after the world shut down, I’m only now feeling capable of really writing again.
And I’m glad that I feel able because, in the past year, the country has experienced Toxic Polarization in wholly new and not-wonderful ways! We’ve watched as the pandemic exposed and deepened our divisions and as an election gave way to an insurrection. As a leading organization combating division in the United States, the One America Movement has a lot to say about where we’re at, why we’re there, and what we can do about it. So let’s get into it.
In restarting that conversation, I want to make a few things clear as context:
First, like you, we’re tired of talk.
Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work—together—on the challenges facing our communities and our country. There’s so much to do. If we’re going to talk about it, let’s talk in a way that moves us toward getting to work.
However, getting to work can’t only mean rallying with the people who think, vote, worship, and look like us. If we’re going to meet the moment, we have to address the toxicity that threatens to tear apart our communities, our families, and our country. In doing that, we have an opportunity to win a victory that is bigger than where our partisan imaginations can take us—a victory that transforms rather than coerces, a victory that builds a stronger, more united country for all Americans.
Second, we believe that one of the most harmful aspects of Toxic Polarization is that it teaches us that we have nothing to be introspective about.
The problem is those people and our side is right about everything. So we stop looking inward, stop challenging ourselves to think differently, act differently, and experience the world differently. We start to accept any idea or “fact” or ideology simply because “our side” espouses it.
To that end, The One America Movement is committed to doing what frankly, most nonprofits and organizations don’t want to do: refusing to tell you what we think you want to hear, even if doing so would make you like us more, send us money, buy our merchandise, tweet about us…you get the idea.
So we’re here to tell you that you—yes you—are part of the problem. We are too. We all are. We’ll get into that more in our first complete edition of this series when I address the concept of how an anti-polarization organization handles the question of “who the enemy is.”
Finally, we aren’t interested in preaching our truth so much as in having a conversation.
You see, because we know we don’t have all the answers (and neither do you! See? We are going to be annoying and keep telling you you’re part of the problem), we want to learn from others. In challenging America to escape its “bubbles,” the last thing we want to do is create our own.
So I’m hoping that in restarting this conversation, it will actually be, you know, a conversation. Please tell us what you think. Where did we miss the mark? Where did we get it right? What questions do you have? What experiences do you want to share?
It’s been a profoundly difficult year, but in some ways, I’ve never been more hopeful. After everything we’ve been through, millions of Americans are ready for something better.
Let’s make it happen. Together.