Author: Yasmine McGrane
Wondering if our divided Nation will ever unite? This mom says YES. And here’s why.
I just ran for the Sausalito Marin City school board. While I lost by 300 votes, defeat revealed a great life lesson. What it takes to overcome division.
My community is as colorful and beautiful as America, and for over a decade, as divided. Deep crevasses formed around race, income inequality, public vs. charter schools, leading to lawsuits, drama, and "Us vs Them" rhetoric. Two polar “sides” were created.
Every election, I watched the pendulum of power swing from one side to the other, depending on who won majority control over the school board.
This election, though, things shifted. The conversation became more about the middle, about unity. Community leaders had started building bridges to unite our two divided schools into one public school. Being part of this effort inspired me to run as a unity candidate to help shape the conversation and light a new path forward.
When you stand in the middle, often alone, you get tomatoes thrown at you for a while. But you also get to see through a lens you don’t have access to from the sides. People with different views actually talk to you. Common ground is easily unearthed.
You learn that people across the spectrum are deeply yearning for unity and peace of mind. The struggle is how to create united communities.
Good news, it’s simpler than we imagine with three shifts.
First, we must actively choose unity.
That means we stop labeling people as the “other”. We take our power back, ignite our curiosity, and venture outside our echo-chambers in search of people, books, and media with balanced views.
I felt invigorated when I did this. Rather than watch division take deeper root, I sowed the seeds of unity (literally distributing Unity Seeds packets – wildflowers that attract butterflies which are symbols of hope and change - to every home). People planted them and became what I call UnityMakers.
I learned people I once thought of as the “other” were kindhearted. I started seeing merit to their perspective and they did to mine. We influenced one another by sharing ideas at our monthly coming together coffee conversations and built friendships.
The second shift is how we respond in challenging moments.
When some went low, holding this one belief helped me keep my cool and not walk away from the conversation: there is goodness in everyone’s heart. That often meant asking more questions to see it. But it’s always there.
Other times we must hold our boundaries by saying “Enough!” with an uplifting tone. When our hand-painted recycled wood campaign signs were vandalized and stolen, I sent a rallying call on Nextdoor asking everyone to go high. Guess what? They did. People voiced how our community was better than this. Messages often coming from supporters of other candidates in my race. The vandalism stopped.
I saw fear and pain living underneath divisive rhetoric. And what people want most: to be heard, seen, and valued. Offer that and things shift quickly.
Conversations previously mired with animus, transform to ones around innovation and hope.
The third shift is reimagining the political arena itself.
Sustainable change happens when more people with diverse views are at the table. But that table is not on the far ends. It’s in the middle. Ideas can come from those on the edges pushing boundaries, but they too must pull up a seat at the unity table where conversation and collaboration happens.
That means transforming what the middle feels like. Not a place of sullen compromise, but the heartbeat of communities across America. Where innovative, visionary conversations happen. Where civility, respect, and kindness live. Where everyone is seen. Where friendship and peace flourish.
So when you see leaders come to the middle, shine a light on them not throw them to the wolves for walking a few feet away from their tribe. That one act moves energy polarized on the ends to the middle. Allowing the pendulum of power to finally rest at our all-American unity table.