‘Us and Them’ is one of, if not the most, destructive of human conditions can also play a key role in the writing of a novel. In my suspense novel, White Ashes Helen plays the ‘us and them’ game with the wealthy and many other groups that don’t see things her way. In doing so she becomes ‘a character’, not just another player in the game.
But where does this strange phenomenon come from? Why do we play this game so readily in our everyday lives? There appears to be little to no understanding amongst its protagonists of just how incredibly destructive it can be?
It seems to me ‘us and them’ is centered on the basic human instinct for self-preservation, an early warning system triggered by ‘fight or flight’ syndrome. But maybe too, it’s driven by a desire for separation from all that we either don’t understand, or don’t care to understand.
When there is no discernable threat to life or limb, the ‘us and them’ seems to be built itself around intolerance: Racism, religious and political beliefs, etc. I don’t like it but I can accept it, as part of yet another element of the complexities that make up the human condition.
What I don’t get, is why, when all danger is set aside, we seek to sustain the ‘us and them’ scenarios in many other walks of life where no real threat or need of disdain or intolerance should need to exist at all. It’s as if we use the ‘us and them’ syndrome like a child would use a toy gun – if there isno warfare we seek to createit, even wholeheartedly enjoyit – like a cheap thrill or a cheeky poke at ‘them’, the enemy!
There’s one four letter word that enters the arena about here. I hate it more than most. It’s over use is rampant, the destructive nature of its status in our psyche, barely understood – and that word, ironically enough, is hate itself. We use it so loosely to describe our emotions regarding ‘them’ or ‘it’ on ‘the other side’.
But what’s to hate? You just don’t like the colour blue? You hate the fact that they’re performing better than your ‘side’ is? You see them as arrogant, untrustworthy, ignorant – or stupid, because they don’t support your side? What? Is there a crime in that? Does that in anyway threaten your life? Usually no, so please, people, go easy on hate, and reserve its use at more appropriate moments.
If you don’t, you could actually be condoning escalation from trivial rivalry to outright warfare! When ‘us’ encourages hating‘them’, then bad things can happen, even in musical tastes as first manifested by the ‘Mod’s and Rockers’ of the 1960s, and now infiltrating the like of Rap with murderous gang warefare .
It’s a sad fact, that in general terms, we seek to destroy what we don’t like or understand. ‘It’ is often immediately seen as a threat – to our way of life, maybe even our existence. Perceived, or encouraged signs of danger too easily call up those basic instincts of self preservation. ‘Us’ against the enemy. Good vs. (supposed) Evil.
Sport, communities – domestic and foreign, religion, management and the workforce – even ‘them across. On and on it goes and I wonder why, because when ‘Us and Them’ are the victors, peace, harmony, happiness and love become the victims.
So please folks, go easy on ‘them’. I for one would wish both sides a little more compassion and understanding in their lives.