Us vs. Them

Lately the world has been reminding more and more of the Dr. Seuss book about the plain bellied Sneetches and the star bellied Sneetches. This book should become required reading for children and adults alike worldwide. It’s a simple story about how we focus too much on our differences and forget how alike we actually are.

Everywhere I look there’s a fight going on. Liberals vs. Conservatives. Women vs. Men. Straights vs. Gays (and the whole LBGT community). Whites vs. Blacks (and Hispanics, Asians, Indigenous Peoples etc.) Theists vs. Atheists. Rich vs. Poor. The list goes on and on to the point where there is fighting between sub-groups of each group.

When are we going to collectively wake up and realize that we all share this planet and these petty arguments only serve to distract us from moving forward in life. I identify myself as a feminist, an atheist and a Canadian, but first and foremost I am a human being, a life form on this planet. I respect all other life forms who share space on earth with me. Yes, I like to state my opinions, and invariably those opinions will be opposing to those of others, even to the point where they may offend others. My intention is merely to bring my viewpoint into the collective fray of opinion that we have created as a global online community.

While I identify myself as a Canadian, I am hardly patriotic. I see no sense in patriotism. Something as random as where you were born shouldn’t give you a sense of pride. You didn’t build the place. I can understand a feeling of nostalgia for your home town/country, but patriotism is just another way to separate ourselves from others and to incite anger. At its worst, patriotism is used to brainwash young men and women into dying for their country. In reality these soldiers are not dying for their country, or even for the beliefs of their country (a mass of land can have no beliefs… the people in any given country will have a widely varied belief system). They fight in wars created by smaller groups of men who can’t get past the whole might makes right theory of winning an argument. (I am aware that I am simplifying here.) Patriotism is simply my Dad is better than your Dad.

Religion is very much the same thing. My God is better than your God. Wars are fought, blood is shed and for what? In the end, there is no end. I mentioned that I identify as an atheist. You won’t see me on a religious battleground. Atheists don’t believe in God, yours or anyone else’s. This, for some reason gets religious folks all riled up, to the point where they wish us harm. I wonder if they are angry at atheists because we found a way out of church on Sunday and burning in hell for acting like humans act every day. In the eyes of theists, atheists have no shame, so what stops them from committing heinous acts of atrocity? Interesting viewpoint. I could ask the same of religious people. It seems your God is simply there as an excuse for the atrocities you commit. Atheists may not have some invisible Santa Clause watching over us and making a naughty and nice list, but we do have a conscience, same as you, that tells us when we are crossing our own moral line. Without going any further into argument territory, honestly, I don’t care what you believe in or don’t believe in. Religion is just another way we have of separating ourselves from others and inciting anger.

A while ago I wrote a blog entitled ‘What Do Women Want’ about feminism and what it really boils down to. In it, I state, “Women want the same freedoms, rights and privileges that are afforded to men, no more, no less.” It’s unfortunate that we still don’t have this. It’s unfortunate that we have to fight for this, but, unlike patriotism and religion, it’s a cause worth fighting for. However, like patriotism and religion, the fight for women’s rights stems from the idea that there exists a group of people who are superior to another group of people. This simply isn’t the case. Just as no one country is the BEST country on earth and no one religion is the one TRUE religion, no one sex is the GREATER sex. As Shakespeare said, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Whether we have stars on our bellies or plain bellies, we are all Sneetches.

Unless, of course the conspiracy theorists are right, and this is happening…

29 responses to “Us vs. Them

  1. Jesus is better than any one else. Every religion that does not worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God is false. I know the statements I just wrote must get you really angry, since you do believe in absolutes;

    But, there are absolutes. There is good and evil, there is right and wrong. There is Heaven and Hell, and there are those who have Christ and those who do not.

    There is no sitting on the fence. You’re either on Christ’s side or not. Jesus said a person is either for Him or against Him. Who do you choose to stand with? There’s no middle ground.

    Connie

    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    • You’re either for Heracles or you’re against him. Every religion that does not worship Heracles as the risen son of Zeus is false. There is Elysium and Tartarus. There is no sitting on the fence. I’m going to Elysium after I die. Are you?

    • Connie, I don’t believe in god either, but the god you believe in is definitely too small and too petty. If you have to keep defining yourself by what you’re not, you’re going to define yourself further and further into a corner, which is a pretty sad place to be.

      But I guess if you’re with your beloved god…

  2. First, thanks for liking my Cee-Lo post- I enjoyed yours, too. Then I read this one- LOVED IT!!! I’m adding you to my blogs I follow. Can’t wait to see what you tackle next :-)

    P.S. I have similar but slightly different identities… I’m a feminist, a heathen (moralistic though-lol!) and of the United States.

  3. Good stuff on feminism. But for patriotism I feel your argument may be a bit off. ” Something as random as where you were born shouldn’t give you a sense of pride”. It is similar to your own house. You have feelings attached you own community your own backyard, your child hood memories. You start belonging there , you start being identified there. You pick up minor things in your country like your accent , your language, and to some extent a belief. In someway or the other they contribute to your development.These act as the seeds for patriotism. Hence I believe every individual should have patriotism just so that he can love and respect his/her own country but not berate others. But again patriotism and fanaticism have a thin line and very few decide to stay on this side.

    • “It is similar to your own house. You have feelings attached you own community your own backyard, your child hood memories.”
      That is not what is being said. In fact the article clearly states ‘I can understand a feeling of nostalgia for your home town/country.’ You can still love a country, but to say your proud of something, i think you first have to do something.

      ‘Women want the same freedoms, rights and privileges that are afforded to men.’
      I certainly hope this is the case! I will never have to buy a woman another drink. Im skint, i can no longer afford this privilege.

  4. I was writing something very very alike this….
    Reading this made me wonder if I am original at all! Well written, well pointed and well done…

    I should point out that there are related matters in political philosophy, including dilemmas about the different rights given to people in different countries, which could be answered based on what’s written here.

  5. The Sneeches were my favourite in the Dr. Seuss books. Green Eggs and Ham and the one the north going “guy” and the south going one are my top three.

    The whole “us and them” belief is more than you suggest though, I think it’s instinctive.

    When you get down root of it I think that it’s a survival instinct and I don’t think humanity is capable of getting past it.

    On a personal level we are capable of getting past specific examples of the “us and them” mentality but it’s integral to the survival of a species.

    I think it’s important for personal growth to get past as many of the ridiculous ones as we can, but it will always be in our nature.

    @xWarriorPoetx

  6. I wonder if patriotism is the attachment to a random geographical location or the attachment to, fundamentally, the people that inhabit within the said boundary.

    I am an immigrant to the UK and I am not ashamed to say that I love the UK. But is it because I am fond of the autumn drizzle and the perennially cloudy sky? Or perhaps it is because of the ancestrally enshrined values that survive today in modern Britain?

    In which case, patriotism is not necessarily a senseless battle. Sure, taken too far patriotism easily mutates into fanatical nationalism. But at the root of it, there is more to be considered than “whose dad you have”. Are not ourselves an image of our maker to paraphase the book in contention (believe me I am an atheist)?

    I suppose this ties into the starting point of your article, how do we reconcile the differences in the spectrum of view points presented by various groups of people. I have often pondered this myself. You write that everywhere you look there are conflicts being fought. I am very much in accord with the premise, but like any ethical investigation, what is the solution?

    Take the example of the Isareli-Palestinian conflict, the dividing line is drawn with smoke and mirrors. It is clear a peaceful solution is necessary and to the benefit of all involved, yet over the crucial points of say repatriation of displaced Palestinians, or the sharing of an inter-religious Jerusalem, the simple claim to pacifism is insufficient to say the least. Of course you write that these divisions breed hatreds in the first place, but so long as people continue to disregard empathy such issues will continue to exist.

    I often think of a harmonious society like that of a great willow tree. People from all roots of traditions coming together in the common accord of a constitution. As winds of change sway the leaves of our individuality, we are bound by a shared core of principles. Perhaps that is true patriotism. As Thoreau once wrote, “One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon”. Perhaps it is time we abandoned the place that fostered us, but embrace the place that defines us.

      • By all means Madison was a great thinker of his time. But in the war of 1812 he did lead the Amercian nation and utterly vanquished the Indian confederacy (ally of Britain) and endorsed the patriotic song, “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

        I somehow doubt his credential to speak out against patriotism when he himself manipulated it so well in his presidency.

  7. Sweet entry. We are all one. Even the people who desperately don’t want that to be so.

    I am totally ok with you not believing whatever I believe (we’re after all, not mass-manufactured paper-dolls). My belief in a divine is centered on the idea that *I* don’t have all the power in the world, over everything in the world, and my belief has nothing to do with forcing people to agree with me, nor to see things one way or another.

    So, I see it very much as a matter of definitions. For those who define ‘religion’ as essentially evangelical, rigidly monotheistic, judgmental…. and the other widely-spoken-of negative aspects, religion is quite unattractive. This is where I really don’t want to be a sneetch, so I’m just going to say, my faith in humanity goes far beyond the negative aspects we all potentially have, to an indestructible love despite those negative things.

    Keep on writing, you are awesome!
    Sparks

  8. It’s really sickening. Last week I wrote a blog entry where I substituted religious affiliation for popular fiction series (i.e., Harry Potter and Twilight); where if we judged a person based on how much they knew about the various uses of the Venomous Tentacula, or if someone was “Team Edward.” That’s essentially the level of absurdity that the whole religious debate sinks to, because they’re dealing with insoluble ideas that can never be proven as fact, yet everyone in the communities agrees that they’re “facts.” This would be fine and dandy… except when they go outside of their communities and expect everyone to accept these ideas as facts too. As Douglas Adams quipped, “Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!”

    But of course it’s not just religion that divides us. Unfortunately, evolution provides us with a proclivity for tribal prejudices. We seek safety in numbers amongst our own “kind.” However, we’re also the only species that can recognize the influence of our genes and work against it!

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