Us vs Them: Changing the Narrative with Comparative Reflection
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
The desire to live a long, prosperous, and fulfilling life permeates humanity. We typically only differ on how to get there. These overlapping desires should be a tie that binds us, yet it's this desire that pits us against one another. It creates the disdain for "them." We believe that it is they who impede our advancement, and stifle our growth. We feel as if without "them," we'd flourish. It's this polluted and myopic mindset that creates our impediment, not "them."
If we thought that "they" were an asset, and that because we shared the same values and goals, that we could get there together, we would. In psychology this human phenomenon is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe that you will have a positive interaction with someone and you likely will. You'll make it so. Believe that life is full of different people with different things to offer and that will be your experience. Believe that someone will be hostile towards you, and they likely will. This is not necessarily because these things are true, but because our behavior will reflect our beliefs thereby influencing those around us. We encounter hate, because we hate. We experience violence and hostility because we are violent and hostile. We encounter them--the people who think their life would be better without us--because we think our life would be better without them.
You're life is a composition of the energy you cultivate, and the people you will encounter will be a reflection of that energy. The most crushing reality is, at our baser selves, we want the same things. We all work hard and endeavor to be the best version of ourselves. All of us. However misguided, however misplaced our faiths, we still try to do what we think is best. It's this commonality that should bring us together, make us stronger, and help us succeed. Could the racist white nationalist actually be a good wife, husband, brother, father or mother? A good person? Could the racist black nationalist? Could the man-hating feminist? Could the devout catholic or Muslim? Is it not possible that in some way, all of the above individuals overlap in their want and desire for happiness? The real question is, does their differing beliefs in how to achieve happiness really matter? Couldn't they all be right and wrong at the same time?
Does our happiness have to come at the expense of them, or could it be a product of all of us? Being racist or phobic is akin to professing disgust or hatred for a type of food you've never tasted. It's not about the food itself, it’s the the idea of the food, and your perception therein. Fortunately these misconceptions do not have to be permanent, they can be changed. You can step outside of your comfort zone any time. You can experience something you never have, and thought you always hated. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. Though, chances are, that you'll realize it wasn't as bad as thought.