We have been careless. It’s time for that to change.

The following post is written by Rev. Denise McKinney

I remember one of the first times I was careless with another person. It was first grade, and my friends and I were walking home from Manor Heights Elementary on a snowy Wyoming afternoon. A group of boys that lived nearby began pelting us with snowballs. The next day, the pelting began again. I remember feeling what could be described as a 6-year-old’s indignation and decided that I would seek justice the following morning. 

So my friends and I asked to go to see our principal, Mr. Rock, at the start of the school day. When we shared our saga of mistreatment, the principal called in the group of boys for questioning. They defended themselves and gave their side of the story, which included that we began the conflict several days earlier by piling up snow on the slides as they were going down during recess. 

Then Mr. Rock’s demeanor changed. He got up and retrieved a paddle that said “board of education.” Fear seized my heart. Suddenly I was in danger of getting a spanking from my principal as a tender first grader! He looked at all of us and asked if we could work it out to treat each other better or if we needed help from the board of education. Everyone quickly agreed that we could figure out a way to coexist peacefully on the playground and on the way home!

In my defense, I thought the snow piling up on a slide was harmless fun so it didn’t even occur to me that it could be used against me. However, boys throwing snowballs at my head crossed the line. But I can only guess that they were responding with what they thought was fun. I appreciate Mr. Rock’s response because I know now he probably never intended to spank us. He wanted to make a point about the consequences of careless actions. Without a lecture, he communicated that a cycle of retaliation and blaming does not end conflict, it spurs it on.

That childhood memory surfaced Wednesday as I watched and read about the violence in our nation’s Capitol. Of course I know the difference between a child’s early lessons in getting along with others and the costly lesson learned Wednesday about the deterioration of our country’s unity over years of growing polarization. The chasm of intent, guilt and consequence between the two stories spans between little ones who are learning to know a better way and grown humans who should know better. But what holds these two events in tandem for me is that human trust and empathy are broken when we are careless with one another.

One was a momentary life lesson. The other represents the most egregious grown up version of that lesson not being learned. The survival of our republic and the soul of our nation are both hanging in the balance of us choosing to be careful over being careless with democracy, with our neighbors, and with conflict.

Careful: anxious to protect (something) from harm or loss;  and the definition of careless: not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors.

The Oxford Dictionary

My fellow Americans, we have become careless. We have not given sufficient attention to the harm we are inflicting on each other with political retaliation and inflammatory language. We have not given wise thought to how exaggerated divides are robbing us of shared identity. We have not been willing to admit the errors of government, structures, or relationships that perpetuate polarization and pit people against each other as only binary winners and losers.

As a part of the One America Movement Board for several years now, I have learned that it takes care to listen to opposing views and groups to find common ground. I have witnessed the cultivating of deeply-rooted friendship and healing when we begin with fully caring for people we don’t understand or think we won’t like. Much like my little lesson in elementary school about fighting for my rights and beliefs concerning snowballs and snow piles, we must be willing to acknowledge the whole story—and our part in it—if we are to figure out a way forward. What we may see as harmless or someone else’s fault may very well be something we still bear a responsibility to change.

I feel like Wednesday was our nation’s visit to the principal’s office. The oceanic depth of our fractured democratic story was laid bare. The hard question we must answer is whether the pain of this undeniable reality is now enough to move us towards a care for one another that restores and reconciles.

My hope is that we would be so careful—so filled with care for protecting the well-being of our neighbors and nation—that we can hardly sleep when unity within either is threatened with polarization.

My prayer is that it would be impossible for us to enjoy our own freedom while someone else is being oppressed or treated as less than.

My challenge is that we be willing to listen to the story of another before we decide they are trying to ruin everything for us.

The reality is that we are not as far apart as hyperbolized rhetoric and social media echo chambers make us think we are. We have so much in common. And we could share so much more and be richer for it personally and nationally. But first, we have to learn to be careful with one another because a few snowballs may seem harmless, but blizzard after blizzard of carelessness can ruin us.

We should remain restless, anxious, unsatisfied and maybe even a little sleepless until we see the icy hatred that has been building melt and that care-filled culture flourishing in all the places each of us can help make it happen.

Rev. Denise McKinney has been a youth, worship and connections pastor over the last 25 years. She started The Well, a dinner church in Tulsa OK in 2020 (yes in the middle of a pandemic!) She is the author of Mile Markers: A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith. She is passionate about connecting people in relationship and mission and serves on the One America Movement board.

Through the dark, we will find our way.

By: Chandra DeNap Whetstine

Every day my three-year-old son wakes up and asks if COVID19 is still here and I have to say, “Yes. Yes, baby, it is.” Inevitably his little face falls as he says, “but I wanted to go to Mima’s house.” 

For as long as any of my three sons can remember, we have spent the holidays at my in-laws’. That is where they get unlimited hot cocoa, where Santa brings them gifts, and where there is an endless parade of delicious food and warm hugs. Home is nice, but Mima’s is heaven for them. 

Unfortunately, this year it isn’t to be. This year, in an effort to limit my elderly relatives’ potential exposure to the Coronavirus, our family made the difficult decision not to make the trek to the midwest. It felt too risky and now it just feels too sad. 

The last nine months have been rough on our family, and I know they have been on you, too. We’ve been isolated; we’ve been scared; we’ve been stressed. And yet, we have learned how to build and keep our relationships in new ways. We’ve had family Zoom parties and online church trivia nights. Our older boys play games with friends online and our toddler loves to Facetime with anyone who will pay attention to him. 

As hard as this has been, it has taught me that through it all, connection, relationship, and love will find a way.

And that is what has kept me going at work, too. The One America Movement is about building relationships so that we can tackle the tough challenges our communities face. We weren’t about to turn our back on our commitment to those communities just because we couldn’t meet in person this year. The challenges in our communities right now are too great – from food insecurity to the opioid epidemic to racism. And our divides – be they over politics, religion, or even how we are handling the Coronavirus – are too deep to let them settle in while we isolate at home. 

So this year, the One America Movement moved online. We held virtual events for chapters across the country, provided a space for community leaders to grapple with the polarization of the 2020 election, and facilitated training and support – all online. 

It wasn’t the same as being in person. We couldn’t shake hands or hug our neighbors. We couldn’t share a meal. But there was a special kind of intimacy to it, in being able to see each other’s faces up close on the screen, in getting a peek into each other’s houses and lives. We met each other’s pets and kids and saw one another’s kitchens and family rooms. We reached out through technology to build connections that would have otherwise been cut by this pandemic. In a time when we are all so isolated, we got to know we weren’t alone. 

I know 2021 will be different. But the countdown into a new year isn’t a magical panacea for America’s troubles. We still have lots of work to do. We must do that work together, even if we are still separated by a screen, and the One America Movement will be here for it. We’ll be rolling out new training events and building new relationships. And one day – when the moment is right – we will be back together again in person to serve our communities and make them even stronger than before. 

As I write this letter, my three-year-old is marching down the hall shouting “On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer! On Vixen! Dash Away! Dash Away! Dash Away, All!” His joy reminds me that in this house, Christmas is coming whether we are isolated or not. His joy isn’t waiting for a vaccine. It isn’t even waiting for hot cocoa or Santa Claus. 

Connection, relationship, and love will indeed find a way. As we close out the year and you plan your end of year giving, I’d like to invite you to join us in the fight against toxic polarization, and in creating a stronger, more united country. Every little bit helps, and your contribution is needed to help us reach congregations and communities across the nation so they, like my three-year-old son, can find the joy and vision they need to engage in this important work of healing our divisions.

Dash Away, All! 

Happy Holidays,


The One America Movement is a registered 501c3 Nonprofit. Make a tax-deductible donation here to support our mission of ending toxic polarization. Thank you for your support.


By: Andrew Hanauer, President and CEO, One America Movement

This year has been incredibly hard. We don’t have to convince anyone of that. Social scientists have a technical term for this year: “Dumpster Fire.” We think that pretty much sums it up. 

But, despite the challenges of this year, our mission has always been about hope, about bringing light and positivity to a country exhausted by negativity and division. As we prepare to close the book on 2020, that continues to be our focus.

This year has shown us without a shadow of a doubt that the majority of Americans are willing and ready to put in the work — despite the pandemic, despite the election, despite the grief, fear, and pressure this year has created — and to fight toxic polarization by working together to address their communities’ greatest challenges. 

We need your support – Donate for Giving Tuesday

This year has pushed us physically farther apart, but amidst our grief and exhaustion, we can see what we need to do. To move forward, we have to move forward together, and we have to be resilient to efforts to tear us apart.  We have watched Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs adapt to the difficulty of the pandemic and find new ways to come together and work together to make this country a better place. Throughout the pandemic, we have hosted dozens of digital events, bringing together people and communities across the nation for fellowship, learning, and work. 

As we enter the holiday season and look toward a new year, we are grateful for your support of this important work. Thank you! 

Your gift today will help us:

  • Strengthen our resilience to toxic polarization by supporting One America chapters to safely serve their communities across religious, political, and racial divides.
  • Train influential religious leaders to understand the science and research behind division so they can impact tens of thousands of their congregants.
  • Build networks of fellowship and support for religious leaders who are working to reduce divisions within their congregations and communities.
  • Expand our programs and staff across the country to ensure we have enough hands-on support to make big things happen in local communities.

Thank you for being a part of the One America Movement. We appreciate your support, on Giving Tuesday and all year long.

The Election and Our Future

By Andrew Hanauer

It has been quite a month. It has been quite a year.

At the One America Movement, we were unsurprised that the election exposed – and further deepened – the toxicity of our division. The toxicity we are experiencing as a nation fuels itself, making our divides worse and worse.  

That’s why 2020 feels worse than 2016, and why we must take action now to repair our divisions and rebuild our country. None of us want to see what 2024 will look like if we don’t reverse course.

This toxicity also obscures the truth that study after study reveals: Americans are much more united on actual issues of importance than we realize.

And that’s good news. Because if nothing else, this election made clear that whether we like it or not, our future is shared. There’s no shortcut. We’ve got to find a way to make this country work for all of us, or face a future that is increasingly toxically divided.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that all of us feel that unity right now. Since the election, we have heard from Americans on both ends of the political spectrum who aren’t ready to “come together” (and we have also heard from a lot of Americans who are). Since we began this work in 2017, we’ve never believed that calls for paper-thin “unity” were helpful or appropriate. What we need is much deeper, much more difficult…and much better.

What we need is a movement of Americans committed to building our shared future together. We’re not going to build that future by ignoring our differences or glossing over the difficult parts of our past or present. We’re going to build that future by rolling up our sleeves and working together on things that matter. Things like childhood hunger fueled by a global pandemic, the ongoing scourge of racism and the opioid epidemic, still raging in too many of our communities. 

We know this work isn’t easy. We are up against societal systems that profit from division. Even the way our own brains are wired can push us toward further polarization.

But despite these challenges, we’ve never felt more hopeful. Our organization is growing because more and more Americans are ready for something better – we’re now 9.5 times larger than we were when we started. In the past month, hundreds of new faith communities have gotten involved in our work. Our “Corona Rebuild” initiative won the support of the National Association of Evangelicals, Islamic Relief USA and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, powerful organizations modeling for a divided country what it means to commit to our shared future.

But we have something else pretty important on our side, too. There is something powerfully human that no social media algorithm, no misinformation campaign can touch. When we bring Americans together across divides to work together in their communities, there’s a magic that you can feel, of hope and transformation.  

At a time of division and negativity, we all need a little hope. Thank you for making this work possible.

Today is Election Day

By: Heather Aliano

Today, more than ever, we need to be ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

I know you’re probably worried about the future because everything seems so uncertain. I am too. But lately one thing has really kept me going — we are Americans. We all live in this country and call it home. We often disagree, and those disagreements can be very important, personal, and challenging to navigate. That’s normal. 

However, no matter how intense our disagreements may be, at the end of the day, we share this country and our future is bound up in each other. 

We all want to live and thrive in our home no matter where we come from, what we believe about politics, or religion, or who we voted for. Americans are such a diverse group of people, and that is what makes our country so special.

As a military spouse, I know what it means to love your country. My husband joined the Air Force after 9/11 and has been serving ever since. We’ve been through so much as a country, and as a military family, in the last two decades. I know that the United States is flawed – every country is flawed – but it’s home.

Our service has taught me that in hard times, we all have a choice. About how we act, how we live, how we use our words and our time and our resources. And that is why I’m doubling down on my commitment to this country that I love. 

I’m committed to doing what it takes to find solutions to our problems, and that means coming to terms with the painful parts of our past — even if it makes me uncomfortable. I am going to continue showing up for people. I am going to continue working to make my neighborhood, my community, and our country a better place.

I am committed to opening my home, heart, and mind to people who are not like me because I believe it’s our duty to love our neighbors as ourselves.

It’s important to love our neighbors.

We might disagree on a lot, but no matter what happens today, America belongs to all of us. We live in this country together, and we need to work together to rebuild it.

We are going to get through today, through this week, through this year, and we are going to build the kind of country we all can be proud to call home. 

Join me and the One America Movement in building hope and unity in our country.

The World as We Know It: College Edition

By: Jaylan Robinson

The Coronavirus pandemic has heightened divisions across the country in some ways, while bringing Americans together in other ways. One America wants to share the real, personal stories of Americans impacted by those divisions. You can share your story with us at info@OneAmericaMovement.org. Below is a perspective of one West Virginia woman who is working at a retail store while starting her sophomore year at Shepherd University.

Have you ever been in a small car trying to go up a very large hill? You can feel the car fighting hard to make it, but you know it’ll take some time to actually get up and over the hill. Right now, it feels as if we are all in that car as we try to get through this pandemic.

I’ve seen many stories about the experiences of people across the country. Each story is different, and this is mine. I am 19 years old, a college sophomore, and am looking forward to starting my life. 

I started Shepherd University in the Fall of 2019. Everything started off great. I was making new friends, I started living on my own, I was working — and of course, you cannot forget about the little parties here and there! Then BOOM, COVID hit us. 

There was a lot of uncertainty about whether we would stay in school or not. The school battled with it for about a week or so before telling us that they were shutting down for the remainder of the semester. We all kind of knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time.

Going back to school for the fall semester was different. I don’t like it at all, and I think I speak for a lot of people in that respect. Personally, I’m a hands-on learner. For me to really grasp what’s being taught to me, I need to be in the classroom. Online class is confusing, and a lot of things get lost in translation. Thankfully, my school offers hybrid classes as an option, which give us the opportunity to take half of a class in person and half online. 

Being on campus is so different as well. Before the pandemic, when I would pull into Shepherd, there would always be people outside socializing, eating, playing games, reading books, skateboarding, playing music. You could not walk down the sidewalk without seeing someone. Now, you literally see NO ONE.

Before school started this year, I started a new job at Walmart. So far, everything is going smoothly as I try to balance work and school — especially because classes are mostly online. That’s really the only positive thing about online school. 

Working at Walmart while this pandemic is going on is not great. It’s actually pretty nerve-wracking. I don’t necessarily show that I’m nervous to go to work, but honestly, I can be a bit hesitant just because people aren’t really  taking COVID seriously. Before you enter our store, there is a huge sign that says, “mask is required to enter,” UNLESS you can’t wear one for medical reasons. But of course, some people say that they have a medical problem that precludes them from wearing a mask– but we can’t know for sure if that’s true or not. I worry that people are not taking this seriously, and will put me at risk of getting sick.

I’m a cashier. For those who shop at Walmart, you are familiar with the rotating plastic bag dispensers. Well, people will walk around them, with no mask, into my personal bubble even though customers are not allowed to do so. When I comment on it and ask them nicely if they could go back on the other side of the register, they always assume I’m being rude or have an attitude, but that’s never my intention. I just want people to respect others and their health. I do understand that people have strong feelings about the virus and some don’t believe it even exists, but we don’t have to share the same views or beliefs to be kind and respectful to one another. 

This might sound kind of negative, but right now, life is hard, and I’m not someone who has the luxury of thinking too far into the future. You just never know what could happen. No one expected for Corona to hit the way it did, and no one expected for us to be in the position that we’re in today. We had to self-quarantine, we couldn’t go anywhere, and we were essentially stuck in our homes. People were laid off from their jobs because of this pandemic, homes were lost, and so much more. But I do have hope that our world will turn around from this and things will go back to normal. But even if things don’t go back to normal, we’ll adapt and figure out a new way to live. Life must go on. The world doesn’t just stop spinning, and we have to find a way to live in this moment so that life doesn’t start passing us by. 

With everything going on, I feel like it’s important to remind each other that this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a bump in the road that can be overcome. We’re struggling with this pandemic, but sooner or later we will make it over the hill, and we’ll be cruising with the windows down from there. Just keep pushing for a little while longer, and remember that we’re all in this together!

One America Voices: Daryl Lobban

Daryl Lobban
Washington, D.C.
Director of Strategic Partnerships

Q: You recently became a father. How has the birth of your son impacted your outlook on the world?

A: Well for starters, the birth of my son has altered and challenged my perception of sleep. I never knew that I could survive and be productive on 2-3 hrs of sleep. However, the birth of my son has brought me so much hope for the future. He allows me to dream and wonder that the world can be better. He has shown me that there is a future for the world, and I have been given an opportunity to help shape the future of the world by how I raise my son. Elijah’s advent and his generation of peers afford us all an opportunity to make a conscious decision about what kind of world we are going to leave behind for them. I believe America is at a crucible, or in theological language a kairos moment, and every time I wake up and see his smiling face and jovial spirit, I realize that he deserves to live in a world unencumbered by racism, sexism, homophobia, or toxic polarization. I am filled with renewed hope and purpose to end toxic polarization, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender-based violence so that Elijah and other children can be free to become their best selves.

I would be remiss to say that I am worried if the world will reciprocate the love my black boy shows. I recognize that he is going to be a tall (Inshallah), dark-skinned black boy, and I can not help but worry about how his blackness is going to be received by those who have not experienced the joy of his love. I worry about his interactions with law enforcement or the neighborhood watch. I wonder if he is going to be followed around the store like his father was, or are people going to clutch their bags as they see him walking down the street. I wonder if he is going to be asked countless times if he plays basketball or football and not if he is a neurosurgeon or attorney. This has been the reality of his 6’5, dark-skinned father and I desperately hope it will not be his experience. I choose hope so I don’t wallow in despair because as jovial and happy as he appears to be, some will perceive it otherwise. I chose hope because hope is resistance and hope is an act of faith that this country and world can lean into.

Q: You are a minister ordained in the Holiness-Pentecostal tradition but have served in a pastoral capacity for many different Christian denominations. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

A: It has been a wonderful experience. I have worked in over seven Christian denominations, including African Methodist Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in America, Episcopal Church USA, Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Baptist denominations. I have also worked for an ecumenical organization interfacing and advocating for 17 Christian & Orthodox denominations. It has been wonderful to see the many different traditions, cultures, and theological distinctions and the beauty in the different approaches to the Divine. Whether it was eating Armenian food at an Armenian Orthodox Church for Orthodox Christmas or spending a week in the middle of Vermont with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), being exposed to so many denominations and traditions has made me enjoy and appreciate diversity. Unfortunately, many believe that we have to believe the same things, worship the same way, and vote for the same party in order to be unified. But, that is just fantastical. My experience has shown me that we do not have to all believe the same things in order to be unified, we just have to share a common purpose. At the core of all the traditions I have had the honor of working with, there is an inherent longing for love, respect, dignity, and hope.

Q: What made you decide to join the One America Movement team?

A: I have been a fan of the One America Movement from a distance. Naturally, I am interested in any organization that is interested in changing and influencing the mores of society, and that is committed to bringing functional enemies together so that they may depart as friends. Our country is divided, and our common community problems are being exacerbated because we spend more time talking at and about each other and not enough time talking to each other. So, I joined the One America Movement staff to do my part in reducing and ending toxic polarization in our country.

Isaiah 61:4 is a special scripture to me as it recalls what are those empowered by God’s spirit are called to do: “They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”(NRSV) So while this is a great job, I feel that those engaged in this work to be apart of the healing of our nation functionally have a calling. There is so much that needs to be done if we remain committed to the common purpose to leave this world in a better state than when we arrived. This can only be accomplished if we talk to one another and engage in the hard work of making our enemies our friends- understanding that those who we deem are enemies are also children of God.

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