In the climate of today, it sometimes seems as if people are thinking in terms of extremes – all or nothing, black or white, you’re in or you’re out. By doing this, we risk oversimplifying problems and distorting reality. It is not necessary to vilify your opponent or someone who thinks differently then you do.
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.Mahatma Gandhi
One reason why we may be tempted to think this way is that we may be of the belief that there are limited resources that we are in competition for. We may feel that there are groups of people who are getting something that we believe we deserve. The truth, however, is that the United States of America is rich with possibilities and potential. All we need to do is work toward achieving what we desire and with enough enthusiasm, it will be ours.
Another possible reason people may buy into the idea of us vs. them is because of needing to have an identity in a group. By feeling good about the group, we feel good about ourselves. This group can be anything from our race, our religion, our sexual preference, our political party, or even our country. People even sometimes take it further in thinking of dogs vs. cats, vegetarians vs. carnivores, even Coke vs. Pepsi.
While some of these divides have no serious consequences, others can create divisions that can harm us or our society. Thinking in terms of either/or can sometimes cause boundaries that are hard to overcome.
What is the solution for this problem? One way is for people to cross over the divide and belong to different groups. We can get to know and grow close to people on the other side. Dating a person in a different religion may help us to appreciate the beliefs of that religion and be able to see the similarities with our own.
Becoming friends with someone of a different race may help us to appreciate the challenges that person may face daily. Having a family member admit they are homosexual can help us to grow and recognize the need for acceptance in these people. We should learn to respect these individuals as they will help us to span the divide between us vs. them.
Another important fact to point out is the need to avoid the negative dividing messages in the news, social media, or the internet in general. When people of a particular group are discussed as “every” or “all” is a dangerous practice. By doing this, we are marginalizing them and are in danger of not accepting these people. By listening to these negative messages, we may become less accepting of them and possibly even reject them.
Nevertheless, if you are a person who truly believes that the innate differences in people, eg. race, gender, sexual preference, are the problem, think about what it would be like if instead of focusing on the divisions, we could work together to unify and solve the problems we face as a nation. For example, think about what problems we could solve by putting our brains together to solve this pandemic and our economic difficulties.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.Martin Luther King, Jr
I have faith in the people of the United States of America. I have faith that we will come together to solve these problems we face and create a country where all people can feel welcome and safe from ridicule and oppression. By doing this, I believe we will create a more perfect union.