We Can Change Our Programming!
2. Fragmented Us versus Them Perspectives
Deep in most people’s ways of thinking, looking at the world and our lives, is some method of separating people and things into groups. Differences are used to distinguish, separate, judge and label one group of people relative to others, one species versus others, one geography versus another, one set of beliefs, thoughts, characteristics, behaviors, stories, values or aspirations versus others.
As a method to try to understand diversity, that’s fine. To discriminate as a mental exercise is part of how we make sense of the world. We discover or create dualistic dimensions of reality and compare things along those dimensions in order to understand them. For example, in the dimension of hot to cold, we perceive and categorize things according to how hot and cold they are relative to other things, and how that affects us and others. Water freezes or we feel cold at or below this temperature...
However, we tend to use differences as ways to identify insider groups and to label outsider groups. We tend to seek solutions and improvement only for those we identify with, ignoring or disparaging others. We care about us, not them. Worse, we tend to blame others for what are too often really problems within and about us. As a practice of behavior, to discriminate against others as a group is really not OK.
Thoughts and feelings about us versus them divide us. We scapegoat to find or place fault with others, rather than seeking truth in ourselves. By not considering others as we seek solutions for us, we create or exacerbate problems for others, problems that come back to us, whether we want them to or not.
Historically, great cruelties, wars and crimes have been committed on others, because we don’t understand or value them as much as we do ourselves. One group of people enslaves or exploits another, creating suffering. One group enacts war on another, destroying lives and works and systems. Humans enslave, exploit, kill and even commit genocide on other species. Members of one religion or other belief system work to destroy or convert others. Different groups try to exert power over others.
So many of our problems originate in a lack of understanding, concern, respect and care for others, other genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, beliefs, dogmas, politics, classes, geographies, values, practices, views, religions, philosophies, ways of thinking, behaving and living. Common sense.
There’s no such thing as other. There’s only us. We’re all one thing, diverse parts of an interconnected, interdependent web of being and life. If it harms another, it often also harms us, in at least some way, perhaps some way we can’t yet perceive. Social solutions don’t ultimately work unless they work for all.
Our society suffers from fragmentation, disharmony, conflict and competition. That suffering can only be alleviated by holistic thinking, planning, working, living and being. We’re one, us, all of us, all people, species and beings. We’re all connected. What any does and is affects all. All depend on each other, and on our common environments and resources. Share and be fair! Respect and allow others! Open!
It is OK to work within communities to make things work for that community, even if that community does not include everyone. It is fine to create and nurture diversity. But we need to do so with respect for others, allowing them opportunities to make things work for their groups. Separateness is artificial. It is ultimately not real. Everything is interconnected. Ultimately, we are all one. There is no such thing as us and them; there is only us; and we are all inseparable parts of many things much greater than us. Diversity gives us strength. Open and allow it! Try to understand and appreciate! See us in them!
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