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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Perspective – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday July 17, 2010

Today’s Thought:

How small the world we share. How great our foolishness not to see that.

Our disputes can seem so all encompassing. We can become focused on the immensity of our problems. We are obsessed with our differences. Yet, from a distance, we are all spinning around on a very small bluish ball in a very large black vastness. What an important thing to remember.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Perspective:

Veteran’s Day 2009 – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday November 11, 2009

“The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

~ Hiram Johnson

iwojimamemIt is fitting that once a year we reserve a day to remember those who have given their lives or at least their all in the service of our country. Sacrifice for others is a noble and rare quality. The men and women who choose that path are to be commended.

The question is how do we honor our veterans? Do we honor them by refusing – as our government is – to look into the impacts of Vietnam’s Agent Orange impacts, Gulf War Syndrome, or the current impacts of depleted uranium exposure? Do we honor them by cutting their benefits by providing shoddy healthcare?

Do we honor them by giving away the freedoms they fought because we are constantly fearmongered into doing so?

If we are going to ask them to risk their lives then we have an obligation for compel government to take care of them when they come home. We have an obligation for compel the government to abide by the Constitution and maintain the freedoms they swore to defend.

As we honor those willing to go to battle, never should we be more unwilling to honor battle itself. We should recognize that it is not only the soldier in battle who preserves freedom.  It is also the teachers of peace who show us another way. It is also the citizen who holds leaders accountable for the orders they give to soldiers and for wars of choice.

A society that glorifies and reverences war cannot know peace. We must guard our own thoughts against and guide our national direction away from that glorification. Honor the soldier….yes. Honor war and leaders who misuse it. No.

Some of the greatest 20th century American generals and leaders have wise words for us on this day.

“I have known war as few men now living know it. It’s very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”

~ General Douglas Macarthur

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

~ General Omar Bradley

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

~ General Dwight Eisenhower

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”

~ John F. Kennedy

Veteran’s Day Affirmations

  • “Today I remember and thank those who have sacrificed so much to give me the life I enjoy.”
  • “Even as I support the troops, I work diligently for a world where their role is unnecessary.”
  • “When my [insert loved one] is deployed I can feel weak and alone. Today I know I am strong and supported!”

The real goal of Veteran’s Day should not be only to honor veterans, but to commit ourselves to have fewer veterans to honor. The soldier’s duty is to follow orders. The citizen’s duty is to hold leaders accountable for the orders they give.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

The Charge of the Light Brigade – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday July 25, 2009

Ray’s Daily Affirmation:

“Even amid adversity, I endeavor to succeed to the maximum extent of my abilities.”
(Choose from 100s mp3 affirmations at The Affirmation Spot)



chargeIt’s strange how we are often intrigued by those things so opposite our personalities. If you’ve read this blog for very long or read much of my other writing, you probably know I am a harsh critic of war.

It is a barbaric means of settling differences for a species that longs to be deemed civilized. It distorts issues of right and wrong. It kills, maims, and otherwise ruins generations. It uses the exuberance and inexperience of young men and their desire for adventure against them. It fills their minds with visions of glory for the motherland, but not the costs associated with gaining it.

Worst of all, it is rarely even fought for the noble purposes used to justify and excuse it. More often it is fought for greedy profits and a thirst for power and glory. War is a toxic medicine that must be choked down with the sugar pills of patriotism, duty, and honor to convince the populace to ingest it. Bluntly, it almost never serves the interests of the people who actually fight and die in wars.

Yet, as a history major and history buff, war provides some of the most compelling stories in history. It pushes technologies forward, and forces us to challenge and confront our own inhumanity. In college, I read every about word ever written about General George S. Patton and many of the other generals of World War II. I’ve studied the strategies and personalities of nearly every Civil War battle. War, for all its evils, war intrigues.

From the time I was a small boy, one of my favorite poems has always been Alfred Lord Tennyson‘s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.

The poem depicts a famous battle from the Crimean War (1853-1856) – Europe’s first true continental war. British commander Lord Cardigan led a disastrous charge of British Light cavalry against Russian defenses at the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854.

Tennyson immortalized the event with his famous poem. What I love about the poem – beyond its obvious references to war’s paradoxes of tragedy and heroics – is that it is a metaphor for life. Our life often seems to have metaphorical “cannon to the right, cannon to the left, cannon behind us”.

I hope you enjoy this and that you will draw strength from it for your own “battles”.

“The Charge of the Light Brigade”

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

Random Thoughts #8 – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday January 8, 2009

lightbulb Occasionally, I like to share random thoughts that have been floating around in my mind. I don’t know why they are there. The fact that they persist tells me I should share them with you. May they add meaning to your day and provoke consideration.

  • When love and peace win people are empowered. Where war and fear reign people are enslaved.
  • When there is a pill for everything there is a solution for nothing.
  • No government can grant you freedom you will not grant yourself. No government can deny you empowerment you have claimed for yourself.
  • Happiness is a limitless resource not a zero sum game.
  • The journey of a thousand miles may begin with the first step, but the first step is prompted by an empowered thought.
  • Life comes with no warranties. It is full of opportunity and peril and a little of each in the other. Seize your opportunities!

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!