As I ponder the state of politics in our country and the world, I really try to make an effort to not get caught up in an Us vs. Them mentality. But more and more, most recently in the context of the “debate” over separating families at the border, I am left with the takeaway that Us vs. Them may be unavoidable. Us: people who fundamentally believe that part of the human experience is love and concern for our fellow humans. Them: people who believe that life is a zero sum contest that necessitates “winning” at the expense of someone else losing. That seems to me to be the fundamental difference dividing the sides on so many issues.
Simply pause for a minute to reflect on the fact that there is currently a DEBATE about whether we should separate a child, a person who does not have a say in coming to our country, from their family in order to “send a message.” Ordinarily, the innocence of children and mankind’s collective responsibility to them is not the kind of thing that is up for debate. Ordinarily, these are universally accepted truths. We are not living in ordinary times.
Instead, we now live in a world where those who believe that their personal benefit can justify essentially any cost to others have been emboldened and told by those in power that they are right. Never before has selfishness been so glorified or championed as a guiding life principal. So Trump and his acolytes find ways of doing exactly what I try not to do in my own perception of the world: divide us. Create an Us and a Them and set about protecting the interests of the chosen at the expense of all others.
As the sowers of division have succeeded in fooling the world into believing that benefit at the expense of others is something to pursue and celebrate, he has forced me to accept that I must fight Them for my Us. Here, however, is the difference. In this fight, in this resistance, my goal is not the defeat of Them, but the benefit of all, including Them and I firmly believe that the only way we can accomplish that is in the recognition that we are all connected in inextricable ways and that the goal must be a collective winning accomplished by caring about the advancement of all humanity, not whatever tribe I may identify as a member of.
It became clear in the mounting pressure that led to Trump signing an Executive Order curtailing the separation of families at the border that there are many of Us and we are powerful. We must continue to use that power to make this world a better place for Us and Them and work toward a world where They realize they are Us.
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