Thursday, October 23, 2008

Us vs Them

If you've been following the American presidential election in the last few days, you may have noticed that the Republican side has taken on a very "Us vs Them" tone.

This is probably a fairly good summary:

I've been seeing this trend down south for quite a long time now. Political opinion is not just polarized, it's not really even opinion any more. It's even moved past the "cheer for your own team" mentality, and focused on hatred of the "other guy's team."

This way of thinking is poisonous, and it has spread into every facet of politics.

The War on Terror exists because we can't talk to terrorists. They're the "other" guys. If you don't negotiate, though, how do you intend to win, other than genocide?

The War on Drugs exists because drugs are seen as inherently evil, even though the War doesn't prevent drug use - it just makes it hazardous through lack of quality control and medical intervention, and puts money into the pockets of gangsters. It creates an Us vs Them mindset, where people involved with drugs become disposable people. If we could solve the organized crime problem, wouldn't it be worth legalizing drugs?

Imagine, for a moment, the world at peace. What does that world look like? Does everyone believe exactly as you do? Like the same things you do? Have the same color skin you do? What happens when we answer "yes" to any one of those? I think what happens is endless conflict, intolerance and hatred, and that is where the Us vs Them mentality takes us.

To me, peace does not mean absence of conflict. It means wars are fought with words, not bombs. It means every person is free to openly question beliefs. It means we can still be friends when we disagree. It means my moral code will not intrude into the privacy of your home, and yours will not intrude into mine. It means we respect each other. It means we honestly search for the truth in matters, and understand that disagreement arises from imperfect information, muddled thinking, or from selfishness.

Perhaps it means realizing that We are somebody else's Them, and They might be right.

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