Who are these Them that cause us so much grief? Them who’s different. Them as disagrees. Them who doesn’t see same as me. Them’s the ones who don’t understand me not at all.
Pidgin writing is so much fun! Part of why I love the Cloud Atlas story.
I first became conscious of “Us vs Them” in community college when very clearly I was the righteous “us” and the angry atheists in class were the evil dirty “Them.” I am so profoundly ashamed of ignorant and unkind things I said, implied and wrote about them in those years.
Later, in my more enlightened days, I came to be aware of the evils of the “Us vs Them” mentality and devoted many words to decrying it. Of the hills I could have died on, this one wasn’t so bad.
But time brings wisdom(hopefully) and maturity(ideally). We’ve already had one Savior die on a hill and that should be enough for the rest of us.
The idea behind condemning an “Us vs Them” mentality should be to reconcile a conflict, integrate viewpoints, increase dialogue and understanding, peace, shalom. This means one must walk a careful path between to sides, understand both, make friends with both, suffer misunderstandings from both, but stay true and eventually see a union forged.
In my enthusiasm, I saw myself as standing between “Us” and “Them” and being especially tolerant. Of late, I see that more often I have only exchanged one “Us” for another. My pursuit of open mindedness has at times amounted to little more than switching from “Us” to “Us” to other “Us.” No matter where I go or what I believe, there will always be a “Them” and they will always be wrong. That’s no way to live. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
The “U v T” most recently on my mind is the Christian community vs the Gay community. I fancy myself somewhere in the middle except that many of my words have been complaints and I haven’t actually seen anyone reconciled yet. Again…not so balanced. No way to live. Exhausting.
But there’s another “U v T” in mind. This is the idea that “Us” is those who are aware of their problems and struggles and weakness and brokenness and willing to talk about them versus all of “Them” who either have no problems or are, for whatever reason, unwilling to expose them.
The tricky place I’ve found myself in, when with the Jesus-people, is feeling like I don’t quite belong because my experiences of being attracted to my same gender are so different from their experiences of being attracted to the other gender.
But recently, I’ve been challenged(by God and a few gracious people) to closely re-examine my motives and desires and overall ‘what’s going on in me.’ And what I come up with is rather deflating for my ego, but refreshing for my spirit.
Us and Them actually have a great deal in common. Particularly in the area of sexual attraction. We’re all drawn to a type of person and as soon as we find “The One” and settle down with him or her, a half dozen or more other potential “The Ones” pop up and our minds begin to explore the theoretical. And, let’s be honest, this happens no matter what your sexual orientation is.
Which leads me to reconsider my “Us vs Them”ness. I don’t actually want to be alienated and cut off from allies and brothers and sisters, especially not if they’re in just as much struggle as I am.
The reality is that everyone has problems. And, as I have come to see, the essentials of my problems are not all that different from the essentials of all of “them” problems. So when we start talking about our weaknesses and deep questions and vulnerabilities, there really is no “Us vs Them.” Only “Us” together working through similar things.
I really like this idea! Togetherness and cooperation. All of us being equal as Humans, equal before the cross of Christ. Of course I had an inkling of this concept ten years ago because I’d grown up hearing it, but ten years of experience later, now it makes sense!!
In the end, a change is required. I should be less hostile and guarded around the people who want to love me and be my friends and allies. I should be bolder in sharing myself and reaching out to others who may have been feeling as isolated and me. Isolated is no way to live. Exhausting.
Oh, the things we can accomplish when we don’t feel the need to hide from each other! When we see our common struggles and common Savior. When all our stories, all our struggles, can be strength we give each other! Them’s the days I want for Us!