Our lives are surrounded by concepts and media portrayals of conflict. Discrimination, hate, war, and greed have become a deluge that follows us from our homes …to our work places and even into our churches and social lives. Trying to stay dry in this unending rain of negativity requires some fancy footwork and a very large umbrella.
Lately I’ve been patching up my own umbrella, working on a few leaks that are allowing negativity and condemnation to run down my neck and chill my spirit; and I think I’ve learned something.
The most divisive, hurtful, downright skanky word in the English language isn’t hatred or anger it is much, much older and more basic than that. It is the word, them. . .
Coming from the old Norse word ‘theim’ its meaning is literally ‘of them’. The word epitomizes the plight of the other, the outsider. If you are ‘of them’ are not and can never be ‘of us.’
Every war that has ever been fought, every political movement that has sought gain at the expense of a minority of the population, every high school clique that turned someone’s difference into a reason for exclusion; all started with a ‘them.’ They are not us; therefore its okay to demonize, persecute, tease or bully them.
Politicians, workplaces, families, school groups, even churches – all look for a ‘them’ to justify behaviour that they would never think of doing to a friend or family member.
From childhood we have been taught the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. Many of the major religions have a form of this as a basic tenant and it is something that we would all agree on. But have we really looked at what these words mean?
Do unto whom? It says. Do unto others.
Those who are ‘not us’. Those who do not look like we do, do not match our colour palette or slip seamlessly into our communities. Notice that nothing is ever said about doing unto others to help them be like you. We cannot change people, it’s not our job. Our job is to do to others what we would wish done to us?
Do I wish to be hungry? Cold? Marginalized? Persecuted? Of course not – then those are the people I am called to do unto.
I am an ‘other’ different and unique in so many ways, but when you look at the multitude of ‘others’ in the world, the number of our similarities far outweigh and perceived differences. We love, we laugh, we cry, we want to improve our lives and the lives of our children.
Can we stop making these artificial differences, Please.
The spear in your brother’s heart IS the spear in yours. You are he.