It’s simple: Divide everyone into “Us” and “Them”, link the two with the word “versus” (“against”), and there you have it: the opposite of “you” will always be “them,” and “they” are always the enemy. Simple, isn’t it? It’s also very, very deadly.
You’d think we would have figured this out by now. It is, after all, quite simple. But “simple” does not mean “easy,” because powerful interests are committed to keeping things the way they are. There is a lot of money to be made in conflict and war, trillions of dollars to be made over and over and over again. Who doesn’t like it? It’s always “them”, the “out” group, and “they” don’t count, so to Hell with them.
The problem is, both sides are dehumanized in the process. Here are a few examples. “I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting,” American sniper Chris Kyle was quoted as saying. “Savage, despicable, evil — that’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy savages.” Interestingly, America’s first settlers called American Indians “savages;” it made them easier to kill. Newsweek’s Jeff Stein, a former US intelligence officer remembers visiting a clubhouse for snipers in Iraq, where “the barroom walls featured white-on-black Nazi SS insignia, and other Wehrmacht regalia. The Marine shooters clearly identified with the marksmen of the world’s most infamous killing machine, rather than regular troops.” A bit shocked? I’m not. I’ve seen it many times in abusive families, dictatorial businesses, and other “us versus them” systems. As a former employee of a Soviet automobile plant was quoted as saying, “They pretended to pay us, and we pretended to work.” The plant? It failed. That happens to all abusive systems, and us-versus-them systems are abusive.
As Martin Luther Kind, Jr., once said, “either learn to live together as brothers, or die together as fools.” That’s not what I want for my family, my friends, my country, and the city where I live.
The question at this point is: What do we want as the future for yourself, your family and your descendants? For Israel, the US, ISIS and any other human group, the other question is: “Are we willing to set aside our differences and change?” It’s really simple: Begin treating every person you meet with respect and friendliness. Since simple isn’t necessarily easy, it takes work, and that takes a reason. My reason is simple: I want my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren and friends to have a peaceful world to live in. What’s your reason? If you don’t have one now, think about it. If you had a reason, what would it be?