Us versus Them

The similarities between people are far greater than the differences. Everyone I know gets hungry, thirsty, and sleepy. They also want to be materially comfortable. How many adults don’t have sexual desire? How many people don’t want to protect their children, friends and families?

In my opinion, the single greatest problem in the history of mankind has been, and continues to be, the concept of Us versus Them. As long as people blur the similarities between themselves by focusing on some minor differences, it becomes easy for one group to view another group as something other than almost identical human beings. Once a group of people is identified as Them, it becomes a simple matter to justify treating Them inhumanely in the interests of Us.

The division between Us and Them can be based on anything, including physical traits, language, religious belief, or political opinions.

Unfavorable prejudice is the feeling one of Us has towards Them. Favorable prejudice is the feeling one of Us has towards others of Us.

Some people are dividers, and gain or maintain status by actively encouraging the concept of Us versus Them.

Once a label and a description of Them are created, then a divider can associate that label with anyone who disagrees with him. The people who put faith in that label will automatically discount anything a member of Them says because they assume that no one of Them can be believed.

It is much easier to label an opponent one of Them than to actually debate the truth or falsehood of what that opponent says.

The good news on the issue of Us versus Them is that as time has gone by the concept of Us has widened a great deal. In the past it seems to have been generally limited to smaller groups, such as the family, or tribe. Later it expanded to include the city-state, race, or nation. Now there seem to be an increasing number of people for whom Us includes everyone. As the concept of Us expands, the potential for violent conflict diminishes.

-from  Seek Wisdom, Practice Kindness

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About Mark James Wooding

I was born. I was scared. I tried to get back to the warm place, but they wouldn't let me. I cried. Since that quite unexpected and traumatic event, I've been trying to make the best of things. I've written a book called Seek Wisdom, Practice Kindness, which contains a philosophy of life as well as an attempt to describe why people do the things they do. I edited a book called The Magical World of Poetry, a collection of public domain poetry that includes many of the traditional favorites and a few others I was fortunate enough to come across. Both books can be read on their respective websites, which are listed in my Links section. I also wrote a novel called Sasha and Samantha Save the World, which is available on Amazon.com.
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