Us and Them

Us and ThemAs per usual in an election year, the media has gone ape shit and common folk are clawing out each other’s throats, splitting hairs on issues that only marginally affect them. Case in point, a friend writes an innocuous post for the Daily Kos and is vigorously attacked in the comments by people she never met. The vitriol and small-minded insults prompt her to remove the post. Her fingertips are singed, her appetite for speaking truth dampened. Bystanders feel their faith in humanity shaken.

It’s always been this way. Since homo erectus lit his first fire and sapiens saw her first glimmer of cognizant thought there has been an us and a them. Beware of them, we automatically think, they are not of our tribe/family/gene pool. They are foreigners.

As we progressed intellectually, humans often went so far as to say the “others” weren’t even human. The San people or Bushmen of South Africa were missing links according to Dutch settlers who authorized their extermination in the late 1700’s. Closer to home, Native Americans were deemed savages, and imported black Africans considered livestock.

It’s a matter of survival, actually. Wariness exists in all life forms. As surely as zebras instinctively shake off anything that lands on its back, we distrust those who are not our own. But, even zebras can rise above their distrustful instincts to be ridden without fear of injury. Likewise, sentient humans are capable of trusting strangers.

Our natural distrust plays nicely into the hands of conquerors. Indigenous populations were easily destroyed by small numbers of soldiers. Had the tribes joined forces, they would have easily fought off the intruders. Today we have enormous empires ruled by a handful of powerful corporations and we, the people are still powerless to join forces. Rather than fight the conquerors, we scrabble over insignificant issues. We are easily divided and so have fallen prey to a small group.

I’d love to see a return to small, self-sufficient communities, but fear it won’t happen until we’ve burned every drop of cheap oil and have no choice. In a perfect world, we shrink from empire to tribe and rise above distrust of others, never again to be factionalized by the elite.

It is time to jettison dichotomous thinking, the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ of multi-national greed, predatory corporate practices, and partisan politics, and heighten our interconnectedness by designing economic systems, institutions, and businesses with a triple bottom line. – Dennis Kucinich

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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