Us versus Them
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Who is 'Us' and who is 'Them'?
It's us versus them. Kids versus adults. Republicans versus democrats. Boys versus girls. Americans versus Europeans. At some point, shouldn't we focus more on how we are the same versus how we are different? Let's look for unifying characteristics instead of what makes us different.
Listen, we humans, we like faces. We like those who look like us. That’s part of the tribal tendency that is keeping us happy and safe … or at least it did back in the day when that mentality was so important. Part of that us-ness is inherent in the tribal role, our defining features of loyalty to those we consider to be us.
I feel as though there are two mindsets: those who find it easier to focus on the good characteristics of others (‘us) and those who focus instead on the bad (‘them’). Maybe it's an optimist vs pessimist sort of a thing, or maybe more of one's view of the world: do I want to like others? Or do I want to be more solo? It isn't even that one wants to be an antagonist. Sometimes being a Team player just doesn't fit well, and yet one is not ready to be a solo artist. I guess it depends on the team, right? Guess what else? While we are hugely loyal to the other ‘us’ folks, we are also very easily manipulated as to who is a ‘them’. In fact, everything we think we know is grounded in our assumptions, and our assumptions are not always completely based in fact.
Some people just want to get along others. I see this so clearly in my kiddos, too, with each of them having a different attitude towards their impending task of making new friends at a brand new school in a brand new town: wanting to put yourself out there to meet and connect with new people can be a daunting task. Isn't it easier to just decide that you don't need anyone, you're fine on your own, and you are capable of taking care or things yourself? Why rely on others? Why seek companionship? Or, perhaps, the question should be why NOT seek to work on teams, and enjoy the differences amongst individuals? No one personality type and set of strengths can accomplish every task. You need thinkers, doers and coordinators for every task, no?
What I know for sure is that if we take a few steps back, what appears to be a small self thing (how important is being social and accepting of others to you as a person?) gets huge when we look at it on an international scale (how does Big Important Country A relate to and interact with other Big Important Country B and also Little Country C?). Are we all playing nicely in the proverbial sandbox or are we being playground bullies? Are we sharing the jump rope or are we sitting in the corner of the playground sulking?
What do you think? I mean, I find that I am happier and more in tune with life when I can focus on the good qualities of others. Maybe this is why I am more of a dog person: I admire how much dogs love and need the social interactions with others. Much like cats, maybe Cat people are perhaps more guarded, and protective. Is it simple-minded to get excited each time a person gets to the front door? Maybe. But is it better to sit in the middle of a social gathering and get grumpy each time someone wants to interact with you? I can't say. I guess we need a little bit of each personality to be well-rounded.
Constantly harping on the faults of others? Or blaming consequences on outside forces rather than accepting responsibility? Focusing on what people don't do as you might rather than how different efforts can bring different results? Does it really matter what God one prays to so long as they are peaceful and accepting? Does it really matter what nutritional choices one makes so long as they are healthful and energetic? Does it really matter what partner preferences one has so long as they are happy with their choice and it doesn't negatively impact the choice of others? Does it really matter what nationality one has so long as they live their country and allow others to feel the same about their own? Does it really matter what school one goes to, or uniform/clothing choice they make, or career path they follow so long as it does not impair the path of choice of others?
We are more the same than we are different. You can focus on what good qualities others have or on their negative ones; clearly, the choice is up to you. But personally, I feel the pros outweigh the cons, probably the majority of the time. My choice is to embrace the differences. And if your choice is to believe otherwise, I applaud that choice for you and I hope you can allow me my preference, too. Without any name calling or finger pointing. Nanny nanny poo poo never got us anywhere, not when we were kids and certainly not as adults.
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