52 Reflections on “Us” vs. “Them”

There is a dangerous virus that pervades many minds on this planet. It is so woven into the fabric of our conditioning that many don’t even recognize it in themselves. The assumption that “We’re right” and “They’re wrong” is a given to many people on this planet. There are the true believers who believe that their race, religion, political affiliation, nation, ethnic group, or point of view are unquestionably superior.

This virus is ancient and it is persistent. Do you remember this scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey? How different are many of our actions today from this primitive display?

Then there are many who fall into this mindset simply from conditioning of one kind or another. They come not to recognize the bias any more. There are also those otherwise happy, positive people who, because of some traumatic or horrific event, have found justification for giving another group globalized characteristics. There are some who just flat believe humanity cannot change.

To me, this mindset limits us, keeps us in perpetual cycles of fear and violence. We feel justified, even righteous in shouting down or shooting down “Them”. I don’t pretend that this post is going to change all of this. My goal is to simply make you reflect on the degree to which you subscribe to an “Us” vs. “Them” mindset in your life.

These are a combination of Tweets from the past few years and some new thoughts as well. May we all continue to grow and transform this mindset in our lives.

  1. When the labels start, the critical thinking has stopped.
  2. Those who live in a world of “Us” vs. “Them” never contemplate that they are someone else’s “Them”.
  3. How arbitrary and fate-driven are the things that divide us. How conscious and choice-driven are the things that unite us.
  4. There is no greater impediment to the world we seek than the refrain, “But they…”.
  5. The tribe says, “Pick a side”. The wise say, “Been there. Tried that.”
  6. As long as your mind is divided into “Us” and “Them”, your world will be too!
  7. Those who divide the world into “Us” vs. “Them” miss the point. It always “Us” vs. “Us”
  8. Leaders who use “Us” vs. “Them” to secure their power deserve neither leadership, nor power.
  9. Hatred is a fire and its first victim is the hater.
  10. “Us” and “Them” are tyranny’s two favorite constituencies.
  11. “Us” vs. “Them” is a fear-centered world. A fear-centered world disempowers all of us.
  12. “They started it!” Two-year-olds in the sandbox or the mantra of world leaders in the “Us” vs. “Them” paradigm?
  13. The borders in our minds and the borders in our world are built of fears.
  14. Labels are toxic mental residue masquerading as critical thinking.
  15. There is no difference between a fundamentalist “Us” and a fundamentalist “Them”.
  16. “Us” vs. “Them” is a dead end mindset…literally.
  17. Whatever anger rules, anger destroys.
  18. Every time you think of the world in terms of “Us” vs. “Them”, you are empowering the dividers.
  19. Who you are born is fate. Who they are born is fate. Who we become is a choice.
  20. Many a king has kept “Us” together by creating a frightening “Them”.
  21. Those who divide the world into “Good Us” and “Evil Them”, must always avoid looking into mirrors.
  22. “Tastes Great” vs. “Less Filling” politics only conditions the mind of the people, robbing them of half their right to vote.
  23. The divisions we grow in our minds are the divisions we find in our world.
  24. We label what we refuse to understand.
  25. We live on a tiny blue ball in a great black vastness. How do we manage to convert that into division, rather than togetherness?
  26. In the mindset of “Us” vs. “Them”, peace is impossible and war is inevitable.
  27. But for fate, “They” would be “Us” and “We” would be “Them”.
  28. Every dogma that you hold, holds you. Every grudge that you hold, holds you.
  29. When you look for evil in others, you find it. When you look for goodness in others, you find it. That change is not in them. That change is in you.
  30. Labels are mental blocks that stifle discussion and critical thought, beginning in the mind and continuing out into the world.
  31. Open your mind to “Their” perspective. Walk a mile in the “Their” shoes. Read something you don’t agree with.
  32. Focus on seeing the “Us” in “Them” and the “Them” in “Us”. Soon you forget who is who.
  33. The unconscious superstructure underlying “Us” vs. “Them” is that I am part of “Us”. That, by default, makes “Us” right and “Them” wrong.
  34. As long as there are borders in our minds, there will be borders on our maps.
  35. See the world as “Us” and “Them and it is. See the world as We and it is.
  36. In the mindset of “Us” vs. “Them”, their evil justifies ours.
  37. Never was a greater money maker devised than war. Never was a simpler trigger for war devised than “Us” vs. “Them”.
  38. Every division on this planet is human-made and can be human-unmade.
  39. Let us transform fear into love and division into common purpose.
  40. Let us come out from behind our masks; come out from behind our labels; and live in peace as human beings.
  41. Let us create a world where fearing each other is ridiculous and loving each other is as expected as the next breath.
  42. Let us create a world where the adjective we are all most proud of is human being.
  43. Let us create a world where we love each other for our commonalities, rather than despising each other for our differences.
  44. Let us create a world where kindness is seen as a strength and violence is seen as a failure.
  45. Let us create a world where living in peace is as expected as the next breath.
  46. Let us get beyond our petty differences and move on to life’s bigger questions.
  47. Let us create a world where respecting our differences is as expected as the next breath.
  48. Let us each listen to our own heart and to the collective heart; both of which are calling us to greater things.
  49. Let us be quicker to love and slower to judge.
  50. Let each of us commit our lives to mending fences, rather than building walls.
  51. Let us live according to our hopes for each other, rather than our fears of each other.
  52. Let us remember the commonality of our human predicament and the things that connect us rather than those that divide us.

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss.

Ray

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Your Truth, Their Truth

Today’s Affirmation:

I am transforming judgment into understanding. I am the source of change in my life, in my group, and in this world.

intolerance_collageHow you see the world is really a matter of perspective. Your absolute conviction in the truth as you see it, can be absolutely rejected by the next person with the same absolute conviction. When these views collide conflict often ensues. That is, when we insist upon our way or no way.

The fact is that we are beings living in a world that none of us completely understands. We can hide that fact beneath layers of belief in some ideology, religion, or even scientific certainty. The fact remains; we never have all the facts to pass the judgment we are often too ready to pass upon others.

In a world being shrunk by technology and proliferating civilization ending weapons, we might be wise to take stock. Given our permanent state of uncertainty, maybe, just maybe, we should think about giving the other guy a break.

This can be as simple as, “live and let live.” You don’t have to agree with the other person. You don’t have to endorse their behavior. You simply have to understand that you can never completely understand his or her perspective and he or she can never completely understand yours.

Narrow-mindedness and tribal group-think were luxuries humanity has lived with, despite the brutal consequences, throughout its history. We have reached the point now where it is about to the break budget for our survival on this planet.

Saddest of all, there are forces on this planet who have powerful control over information outlets and government who thrive and profit by stirring the conflict that generates wars and foments hatred. They have played the masses like a fiddle to keep us divided and powerless. For our world to take the next steps, the people must see the manipulators for who they are and negate their ability to lead us around by our collective noses.

The alternative, should we persist in our unwillingness to take this approach in world affairs, is the destruction of us all. Who will be right then?

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying, “The world’s problems will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” We are a world in desperate need of a new level of thinking. We need a level of thinking that is not so sure of our group’s perfection and the other group’s evil. We need a level of thinking that sees people as the human beings they are and not subhumans summed up by the term “them”.

We have the power to change our perspective and mend our ways. We can and we must! We have it within us to say, “enough”. It all begins with “live and let live”. Until we are willing to do it, we walk on dangerous precipices.

Back in 2003, I wrote the following simple dialogue between a student and his teacher to illustrate this point to a friend during a discussion. I used a non-human thing to take the emotion out of it and help focus on the concept.

Student: Master, why do people not seek truth?

Master: People do seek truth, but they confuse personal truth with universal truth.

Student: Master, what is the difference?

Master: Do you see the rock over there?

Student: Yes, Master, I see the rock.

Master: How are you different from the rock?

Student: Master, I have intelligence and wisdom. I can change and grow. I offer more value to the world than the rock.

Master: So you are more important than the rock?

Student: Yes, Master, I believe I am.

Master: What do you think the rock thinks of you? Do you think the rock sees its place in the universe as more important than yours?

Student: Perhaps, Master, but that is the rock’s point of view.

Master: Ahh, your truth puts you at the center of the universe. The rock’s truth puts it at the center of the universe. WHOSE TRUTH IS CORRECT?

Student: Master, I know not.

Master: When you have attained universal truth you will no longer be concerned with my question. You and the rock will live in harmony rather than conflict; he with his truth and you with yours.

Stay inspired! Live your truth and allow others to live theirs.

Ray

Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorHe is the author of the Anunnaki Awakening series (2015). Book 1 – Revelation – is now available in paperback and on Kindle. This trilogy takes Ancient Aliens out of the past and into the present. An interstellar, interdimensional journey ensues with humanity’s future hanging in the balance.

Dhammapada Twin Verses – The Affirmation Spot for Friday July 11, 2008

The world we live in is full of promise, threat, and opportunity. As you look beneath the surface, you begin to understand that none of us is safe unless all of us are safe. None of us is free until each of us is free.

The challenges we face are of our own making and the solutions are within us. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world’s problems will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

This is true on both the micro and macro levels. We need new thinking, better thinking. We need to empower ourselves and move in the direction of a bottom up world promoting individuality and decentralization. Top down and centralization approaches are not working. Violence is not working. Hatred is not working. Division is not working.

Interestingly, one of the most masterful expressions of this point of view is over 2500 years old.

The Buddhist Dhammapada is a book of collected sayings attributed to Buddha. The first chapter usually called Twin Verses says, in part, the following.

  1. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in fear suffering will follow him as surely as summer follows spring.
  2. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in love happiness will follow him as surely as his shadow never leaves him.
  3. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hate or find peace within.
  4. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell not on such thoughts shall be free from hate and find peace within.
  5. For hate only feeds on itself; but love overcomes hate. This is an Eternal Law.
  6. Few know that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony. Those who become aware of this cease their quarrels immediately.

We need a fresh reality. It begins with our thoughts. We need to think about what our thoughts create when they ripple out into the larger pond that is our world. To do otherwise, leaves us more susceptible to the threatening aspects of our world and less able to access the promise and the opportunity.

The good news is we get to choose.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Dictionary of Human Behavior – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday March 13, 2008

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I hesitated greatly before deciding to post today’s article. The dictionary is a bit – but only a bit – tongue-in-cheek. My analysis is dire, but hopeful. I try to keep this blog positive. I want people to find in it place they can come every day to be inspired, englightened, or reminded how special they are.

Sometimes, however, light comes along with heat. Satire is a tool for awakening. And so, I present a dictionary of words that might differ slightly from the definitions you’ll find in Webster’s or at Dictionary.com. Unfortunately, these definitions are,  all too often, closer to the truth.

You may find yourself chuckling because it describes someone you know or even you at times. Actually, it describes all of us sometimes.

What I’d ask you, make that implore you, to think about as you read these is whether a world in our current situation can long survive while so many still embody these definitions? The weapons of mass destruction genie is out of the bottle. The choices we continue to make in our own self-interests on this planet are very soon to have consequences, if we do not mend our ways and our fences.Omar Bradley

General Omar Bradley
once said,

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.”

We need to be quickly about the business of reversing that trend. So, read, laugh, enjoy, and think today.









Dictionary of Human Behavior

  • Evidence – a set of facts neatly arranged and carefully worded to support your  point of view.
  • Proof – “independent” verification of  your evidence by those who share your point of view.
  • Truth – the set of evidence and proof you are not willing to part with no matter how much evidence and proof others presents to counter it.
  • Lies – the label given to any evidence or proof contradicts or disagrees with your point of view.
  • Traitor – the label given to others who present legitimate reasons why your point of view may not be valid. The label is a last resort to silence them.
  • Peace – a beautiful, but ultimately, impossible dream shared by children and the naive.
  • Naive – people who just can’t understand why we must kill all of them because they are a threat to the world. 
  • Hypocrisy – a word used to describe how they don’t live up to their principles without requiring a careful evaluation of how closely you live up to yours.
  • Sinner – the practicioners of any system (political, religious, or otherwise) that does not precisely conform to your point of view.
  • Evil – a label used to describe the practicioners of other systems used to rally support among us for attacking them.
  • Nuclear war – 1) a war making use of highly destructive devices designed with the extinction of your opponent in mind. 2) The unthinking person’s answer to every world problem as in, “We should just nuke’em.” 
  • Enemy – see Them.
  • Me – the center of the universe where all truth resides. An individual ego structure that gives  you the unalienable right to believe that your nation, religion, political system, culture, family, needs, wants, or dreams are of more value than those of others on the planet simply because they are yours.
  • Us – we (as opposed to them) those who look, think, believe, and were, by fate, born in the same place as you. A group ego structure confident of its complete and eternal superiority to them. A group thus blessed because of its good fortune to have had you born in it or join it.
  • Them – see Enemy. Those who look, think, believe, and were, by fate, born some place different than you. They are lesser than us and should conform to our world view of the world or face the destruction they deserve.
  • Religion – an institution invoking God as the final arbiter to prove the superiority of everything about you and us over the inferiority of everything about them.
  • Politics – an instrument used for implementing your point of view as the official policy of a political entity up to and including the entire world.
  • Justice – the justified act of exacting revenge upon them by us as redress for a real or perceived wrong.
  • Murder – the unjustified act of exacting revenge upon us by them as redress for a real or perceived wrong.

Now, I can already sense fingers starting to rise and point at the opposition and the words, “BUT, THEY…” forming on your lips. Fine. That is working well for us. Let’s keep it up. In another generation or two (maybe sooner), that should have us and them nose to nose ready to unleash nuclear, biological, or chemical war on each other.

General Bradley has another famous quote that is applicable here, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the sermon on the mount.” Was he right or was he wrong?

There are four camps that allow this situation to persist and put all of us in peril. Keep in mind that both them and us have all of these factions.

  1. Profiteers – those who profit from the global war economy and see profit as superior to an end to human suffering.
  2. Partisans – those who really, honestly believe that our problems will be solved by killing all of them.
  3. Moral High Grounders – by far the largest group, these are the enablers of the first two groups. It usually derives some benefit from the status quo (economic, political, or spiritual).  This group recognizes the problem I’m describing but sees no options. This group doesn’t really think peace is possible. It has really bought into the idea that they get up in the morning with nothing more on their minds than to hurt us. We have no option but defend ourselves. However, this group sticks to the moral high ground that, “We will put our weapons down and stop killing them right after they put their weapons down and stop killing us.”
  4. Activists this is the small group of people in every society who recognize the precipice we dance upon.  This group speaks and acts to wake the other three groups. This group goes by names like reformer, protestor, social commentator, poet, prophet, sage, writer, radical. Generally, they are people ridiculed by the status quo for daring to challenge it. Others are discouraged from joining or thinking such blaphemous thoughts about the established order.

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

The U.S., China, or Russia cannot solve these problems by adding another $100 billion to their “defense” budgets and engage in a “surge” to solve these problems. This problem is not just caused by “Muslim extremists”, “American imperialism”, or “UN inaction”.

It is a crisis, as it has been from the beginning, of the human heart. It is a crisis created because our fears are bigger than our dreams. It is a crisis driven by the belief that killing each other is simpler than co-existing and respecting. It is a crisis that will only be solved by thinking at a level beyond the thinking that created it.

The stakes for the planet and for our species are huge! We are facing change or extinction – plain and simple. The problems are large, but the promise that lies within each human heart dwarfs them. The cumulitive promise of 6 billion human hearts is incalculable.

I know only this, in closing, if 6 billion people decided today that we wanted a different world. We would have it in an instant. Why shouldn’t we?

Be peaceful Be positive Be prosperous!

Ray

The Affirmation Spot.com

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A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – An Update

Thank you for visiting The Affirmation Spot. Your comments on the blog or this article are always welcome. What do you think? Please click here to comment on today’s blog.


Big March MP3 Affirmation Sale!

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Today’s featured affirmation is:

“Achievement. It is not the mountain I conquer, but myself. I am reaching for the top of the mountain and my day in the sun is here.”
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213frkycoul__aa_sl110_.jpgAs many of you have probably noticed the past couple of weeks, my wife and I have been reading Eckhart Tolle’s new book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

The book is the latest Oprah’s Book Club selection. She thought so much of this book that she put together a 10-week global interactive webinar to share it with the world. The live webinar takes place each Monday night at 9 p.m. eastern, 8 p.m. central. In between classes, people can work on personalized workbooks and discuss the class online. 

April and I registered for the class that started last night. We’ve been reading the book together. Right now we’re on chapter 3. Based on what I’ve read so far, I heartily recommend this book. If you are far along on your spiritual path, this book is going to remind you of some very important things that you may have forgotten or overlooked. If your journey is just beginning, this book provides a great foundation.

Last night during the live webcast there were a lot of questions from Oprah’s Christian fans about whether this book is “new agey” and fits with their Christian outlook. Several Christians gave testimonials as to how the book was strengthening and deepening their faith.

Eckhart Tolle, the author, provided some fantastic insight into the issue for Christians or others concerned about how the book meshes with their faith. Obviously, these are decisions that each believer must make for himself or herself.

The book is outstanding. Week one of the webcast was wonderful (with the exception of some technical issues). This morning the report on Oprah’s website was that 500,000 people were logged in simultaneously last night making it the largest single event in the history of the Internet. Oprah reported on her show yesterday that people from 139 countries had registered for the course.

The bandwidth (for those of you not familiar with how the Internet works, this is huge) was pushing 242 Gbps. That caused some technical issues. They are working to get the issue corrected for next Monday night’s session.

 It’s Not Too Late

It’s not too late to become part of this historic global webinar and get the benefits of the author’s insights as you read the book. Last night’s  first session can be downloaded to day from either Oprah.com or iTunes.

You can also still register for the webinar at on the registration page at Oprah.com.

Be peaceful Be positive!

Ray

The Affirmation Spot.com

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