Us vs. Them

Much of this is from 2017, brought three years after it was first shared on my facebook page, March 8, 2017. The post was (is?) public so you might rather read it there. I've truncated some names below, and left out a few comments for being bland or confusing.

Sandra Dodd:

Beware the us vs. them instinct, and also the propaganda. We can't help the feelings, but breathe and reason with yourself when you can remember to do that.

Not a quote from this century...

"I was taught from my earliest childhood that there was nothing good outside of _____(here)____. __(Those)____ men were bad to the core, possessing neither honor nor manly virtues of any kind, and that every _______ woman was so vile as to be utterly unworthy of mention, that goodness was unknown among them, and that certain destruction awaited them and those who associated with them."
Whether you imagine it or someone tells you that the others are inhuman and vile, try to remind yourself that those things are said in all directions, and have been probably since the prehistoric people told their kids not to go into the hills, or across the river, because "they" were terrible and awful.

Calm is better than fearful indignation, for your sleep and digestion, and better for being a gentle parent and partner. Safety from evil others won't save us if we're just as agitated when we're alone at home.

Sandra Dodd:
Instead of finding the original, or asking me to tell who was writing about what other group, let it percolate. Think of what groups you might be imagining. If others want to bring similar dire warnings and descriptions, it's okay if the identifiers are left in or pulled out. I'll rewrite it tomorrow afternoon or so, in a comment, with the citation and all.
Sandra Dodd, after a few hours:
Morning clue:
19th century. U.S. (the quote at top)

Could it have been elsewhere? Elsewhen? 🙂

Carolyn P.:
Funnily enough, except for the bit about the women, when I was little in southern Idaho, it was the Basques that were talked about, not as harshly, but similarly. They had come there originally to herd sheep and that had been cattle country.

Sandra Dodd:

It was western U.S., the quote, but not about Basques. 🙂
Colleen P:
I read this that you wrote, then clicked over to CNN where the first article I read ended with this paragraph - seems a theme for today is emerging. 🙂
"There's a danger that we all become fear-based and fear-driven and we give in 100% to this whole us-against-them hysteria, that we close up our hearts, we just refuse to ever again take the risk that maybe, maybe there's still some good in some of the people we disagree with. If that happens, a form of Trumpism has been normalized in our hearts, in our hearts. And as a father and a human being, that worries me, too."
Fredonna W:
I was raised in a religious organization, and this is the way we were taught to view everyone outside of the organization. When I left, I was surprised to find this attitude everywhere. I had naively assumed it was just a church thing.

Miriam B.:

Yes, me too!
Ria B.:
"The church" (meaning, of course, your church) vs. "The world".
Stephen A:
That works on a personal level, too. Like the enemy is the other. Or as Sartre put it, "Hell is other people." It's so easy to feel superior. I find, the more wounded a person, the less self examined a person, the more the other is suspect.
Sandra Dodd:
There is a natural need in people to know the "us" and the "them." Those who want an inclusive, multicultural, liberal, accepting life will still have a "them." It's easy to revile "the enemy." It might be impossible NOT to have the idea of "other." But creating a "culture" or nation that is created of a combination of others won't save any individual from their own instincts.

Marjorie I.:

I really want a inclusive, accepting world, and find myself having to constantly step back from snap judgements. I guess my "them" is people who don't seem to want that... but I feel like it's worth the effort to try and overcome those instincts!
Sandra Dodd:
Marjorie, this is the problem that can't go away: "I guess my "them" is people who don't seem to want that.." Some of them would rather kill you than not get their way.
Marjorie I.:
Also true! Human nature is quite the knot to untangle...

Deb Lewis:

There is a recent TED Talk by Megan Phelps-Roper, formerly of Westboro Baptist Church, about the problems of hating the other guys. She's not a charismatic speaker, but she talks about how she was reasoned out of the hate-filled beliefs of her family, and church by people who were willing to engage peacefully with her.

I think most people have a hard time separating an ideology they disagree with from the person who believes it. I don't know any way around that because I believe beliefs matter. :) I believe they can drive your actions. If you hold a wrong belief, and you act on it, are you a bad person, or a victim of your own faulty thinking?

Can there be a balance between working for the betterment of yourself, your family, your group, which is our evolutionary programming, without it meaning making the lives of the outgroup worse? You can't really solve the problem of hate by throwing more hate at it. You can't clean up a pile of shit by shitting on it. But people have widely different values, and change is slow.

But as Sandra said, "If by "change the world" a person means "make the world better," then step #1 must be to decide right then not to make the world worse."

Sandra Dodd:

Deb, I love "You can't clean up a pile of shit by shitting on it."

The people who are cleaning up can feel hatred for those who keep shitting on it (whatever the "it" is they're cleaning up).

Sandra Dodd:
"Us"es and thems.
Try to read this without emotion.

We justify our decisions with thoughts of other, worse things we could have done. If I become part of a new "we", the old group I have left is the inferior "them." If there's another group for which I don't begin to qualify, that's another "them." It's comforting to decide I didn't want to be part of their group anyway.

Vegetarians look down on meat eaters.
Vegans can be disgusted by those egg and dairy eating so-called "vegetarians."

"Dog people" might roll their eyes at cat owners. Those who keep cats indoors will not like cat-door people. Bird lovers might REALLY not like indoor/outdoor cat philosophy. They might hope my cat will die.

But what about places where people (real people, our own species) might eat dogs or cats? Some people will side with the "pets" over other humans. Some people side with chickens over their own egg-eating grandmothers. Aren't they TERRIBLE to do that!? 🙂

There is an advantage in living in a culture where people have the same expectations, language, diet, and religion. There are countless advantages. But that is not the fashion for most people these days, and for anyone who says "I miss the days when everyone in town went to church," there's a social ass-kickin' in store.

So it's not even okay to wish things were less screwed up anymore.

What do I think about that? I think it cannot be changed. I think it's good for people to think about their us and them stances—there will be MANY of them, as you look around at what you're proud of or content with, and what you see that you "would never do" or might like to do but can't.

Hating those other people makes you hateful.

There isn't a final solution, but there are things to make it (the big pile of shit) worse, and ways to make our own moment in time better. Enough good moments might make a good day. Don't collect shit unless you want a shitty day.

Sandra Dodd:
I'm going to add two things below this—a video to cheer you up, and then the original quote, filled in, with date and author. Thanks for reading. Be nice, be calm, try not to beat yourself (or anyone else up) for being human.

If this is stirring you to indignation, breathe and come back to 2017 (or the year you're in). It was written in 1949. It's nearly 70 years old. This recording is from 1959.

The lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, also wrote the lyrics for Fiddler on the Roof.

Top quote, filled in, cited, source material linked:

"I was taught from my earliest childhood that there was nothing good outside of the Mormon Church; that the Gentile men were bad to the core, possessing neither honor nor manly virtues of any kind, and that every Gentile woman was so vile as to be utterly unworthy of mention, that goodness was unknown among them, and that certain destruction awaited them and those who associated with them."

Wife No. 19, Or, The Story of a Life in Bondage: Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism : and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy— Ann Eliza Young, 1876

Sandra Dodd:
Donald Duck is easily enraged. Don't be like Donald Duck.

Written in 2020, not in public:

I found another thing on respect...

My writing from 2010, but there are others quoted on the page:

"There are people I respect. My respect isn't what makes them cool, though. My respect only makes me respectful of things I value. Courage, honesty, service, compassion, integrity, humor, musicality, artistry... different combinations in different people."
Some problems with respect

Lately it seems people are pressured to eliminate anyone who fails in ANY category of their judgment (or maybe more of their friend's judgment (or more-than-one friends' judgment). Like I love everything about you except you eat meat so you can't be my friend, or I've always enjoyed being around your family, but your mom voted for Trump, and so I reject you to the third generation for life. 🙂

Also 2020, when I was complaning about the expectation that someone must agree with a whole batch of claims, to agree at all. It's not possible these days to agree in part, or to agree with one point or another. ALL OR NOTHING, lately.
Someone in an unschooling discussion responded to a question about young children and cleaning teeth. She CLEARLY listed out what the parents must do, to avoid supporting corporations Use Xylitol wipes (with details on what sort of Xylitol products NOT to use and why). They must get "toothbrushes with soft bristles made from activated charcoal, bamboo bristles (available on Amazon)" and either not to use toothpaste, or to use "Twin Lotus with activated charcoal" (also available on Amazon) 🙂 And there was a book to buy. She condemned the majority of dentists for being "in business to make money."

I pointed out that none of that was about the principles of unschooling, and the makers of her products were also in business to make money.

She jumped back with "I bet you probably honestly believe that vaccinations are safe for children ... or that there are really no health problems directly tied to petroleum based products ... I bet you probably also believe that the Susan G Komen foundation is ethical ... or that maybe all that hype about aluminum in deodorant is just that, hype ... or maybe you believe that it's okay for doctors to receive monetary compensation from pharmaceutical companies for keeping people sick." (And an odd curse for my future.)

In her world, her beliefs about all those things were a set. She wasn't able to do anything but to recite what she had gathered up, and then lash out if it was questioned.

I think this is happening in the area of transgender beliefs, and of what allies MUST believe or agree to. But it's starting with established beliefs, and then sneaking something else in, disguised as the equal of, or a version of, what had already been examined, tested, studied, and accepted over several decades.

The quotes above are from this exchange:

Clarity, caution and curses
That above is unschooling related. Where it lives, though, is on the Transgender Questions (Parents) group, so if you can stand to read something there: Batching things together is interesting to me. ...

Seeing and avoiding NEGATIVITY

Building an Unschooling Nest

Some problems with respect