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Why "us" & "them"?

There are so many ways to go about analyzing this idea. I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are, and if you think we as humans need to think in these terms?

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    Jul 24 2011: Hi Steve...good question:>)
    I think/feel that if we intend to create peace and unity in our world, we need to start recognizing the "us" in "them".
    With our words, we program the mind, and in using the term "them" we are constantly seperating ourselves from others. My perception is that we are all more the same than different. We certainly have different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, etc., Underneath all that, however, the core of our beings are the same in that we all get hurt, feel sad at times, feel happiness, contentment, joy, security and insecurity, we are all vulnerable and strong, and we want to love and be loved. In my humble perception, we are more the same than different. I would not deny myself the wonderful opportunity to learn, grow and evolve by interacting with people who have different backgrounds than my own:>) I see the "us" in "them" and it has made my life rich:>)
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      Jul 24 2011: Hi Colleen..........Good to see you around. Thanks for the boost. I am so glad that you so eloquently explain what we mean by one. I am just not able to express some of these things.
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        Jul 24 2011: Helen,
        You express yourself VERY well...I'm simply following your lead as "one"...together...and thank you for your kind words:>)
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    Jul 23 2011: Tim....................Because some people establish some standard they use to measure value in people. This is ego thinking. We are unique in the talents we have but in the core of our essence we are all ONE.
    I am not greater than anyone else and no one is greater than I.
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      Jul 23 2011: I agree. There is no "them." There is only "us." "Them" is an illusion created by ego consciousness.
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    Aug 11 2011: A reflection from my own life is that as I have grown up my WE has expanded. As a child I suspected that some of my neighbours might be among the evil THEM. I got older and began school and learned to know many people that earlier would have been THEM, and they became part of my WE. But people from the next village or closest town were still THEM. As time went on and I learned to know people in the next village or closest town, these people fell into my WE as well. So it continued until I gradually realized that there is no such thing as we and them, but all of you were once part of my THEM.

    I think something similar has happened to humanity throughout history. Tribes once fought tribes, but tribes united under ideologies and fought people with other ideologies. People with different ideologies united as nations and fight took place between nations instead. Now for example countries in Europe that fought each in the past century has joined into the European Union, and citizens of any of the European countries would probably find it a very strange idea to fight any other European country. Hopefully we can continue this process untill we finally find it very strange to talk about people from any other part of the world as "them". But there is still some way to go.

    As humans I think we tend to include those we know, have seen, or heard much about in our WE. But we tend to be afraid of and demonize those we don't know and include them in THEM. I therefore think it is very important to connect people around the globe with each other and expose them to each other, and I think the conversations here at TED are one good example of how this can be done.

    For this process to be able to continue I also think it is important that we work to build a sustaiable world. Because if key resources get scarce and we have to play zero sum games, people will most likely form smaller groups again.

    I would recommend watching this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g
  • Aug 11 2011: I think we divide living beings into "us" vs. "them" because that behavior was programmed into us by evolution. Many mammals live in packs and battle with other packs. This behavior was and is still advantageous in environments with scarce resources. But human beings have applied this programming to create more abstract "packs": castes in India, Jews vs. Christians, Muslims vs. Hindus, royalty vs. commoners, blacks vs. whites, sharks vs. jets, young vs. old, rich vs. poor, liberal vs. conservative, "old money" vs. "new money", and on and on.

    Many such packs are defined by accidents of geography. I saw a "God bless America" bumper sticker the other day and I wondered about the sentiment behind it. Was the owner asking his favorite deity to confer blessings on the entire American continent, i.e. all the way from Canada down to Argentina? Or did the owner want the blessings to apply to just a portion of the continent, i.e. the United States of America? But why specify America at all? Did the bumper sticker owner believe that his god's blessings were a limited resource, and therefore they should be concentrated on America and denied to other continents? And if they are limited, why didn't the bumper sticker read "God bless my zipcode"? But if they aren't limited, why not "God bless the world" or "God bless the universe"?

    In order to reduce conflicts we need to give up this pack behavior and look for common ground. We should celebrate rather than denigrate our differences. Otherwise we are just the animals that we evolved from (with the addition of opposable thumbs, suitable for texting).
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    Jul 22 2011: We need not think of "us and them". There is only "we" insofar as who the person is. The only need to categorize people would be for what they do..................farmer, scientist merchant, etc.. What we do is not who we are !!!!!
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    Jul 22 2011: i cant tell you why, but its the reason why humans get treated so bad.
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      Jul 23 2011: Tim...Because some people establish some kind of standard that they measure themselves and others by. This is ego thinking. we are unique in the talents we have but in the core we are all ONE.
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    Aug 11 2011: this generaly lifts resposibility from ourselves.
  • Jul 24 2011: Colleen: Hmm...Yes I personally feel threatened by not knowing. I find this a "neutral" position and instinctive...
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      Jul 24 2011: Hi Robbie,
      I think it's common to feel threatened by something we do not know. What happens when we open the mind and heart to "knowing" more about that which seems threatening to us?

      It may be "instinctive" on some level because we feel we want to protect ourselves from something? However, as evolved humans, we have a brain that can logically determine what we actually need to protect ourselves from, don't you think? For example, some of the thoughts that cause the "us" and "them" seperateness are racial, political, religious. We usually don't need to protect ourselves from those who are a different color? Those who have different political or religious beliefs? And yet, we often do use those issues as a way to seperate ourselves? Even if we have a different skin color, political or religious belief, we can still recognize the interconnections, don't you think?
      • Jul 24 2011: Makes sense just easier said than done. Kinda "once bitten twice shy" reasoning...I personally recognize your response as correct. Implementation is up to ones unique surroundings.
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          Jul 24 2011: I think/feel that "implementation" is up to each of us as individuals...or not...we have a choice. I understand that sometimes when we have been "bitten" we sometimes don't want to extend ourselves again. I've had so many enjoyable, wonderful experiences because I reached out to others, that I know I will continue doing it for my own pleasure and gratification. Sure, I've been "bitten' a few times, but overall, have recieved way more "gifts" from the experiences.
  • Jul 24 2011: I would characterize "them" as "the" threat and "us" as neutral...
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      Jul 24 2011: Robbie,
      Do you think or feel something or someone may feel like a threat because we don't know it/them?

      Is labeling something or someone a "threat" a "neutral" position?
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    Jul 23 2011: Depends on the objectives.
    In analytical work it's perfectly normal.
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      Jul 24 2011: Hello Judge...........Could you elaborate on that ?
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        Jul 24 2011: Us and Them is part of a language.
        It is a communication tool.
        Like any other tool, it has been used wisely and not so wisely. I just want to remind everybody that the terms is neutral. The application is not.

        Us and Them is perfectly normal term in any comparative study be it focus on performance, culture or any other analysis.