The “Them” Wall by John Whipple [Guest Wreckers]

John WhippleWe take those we have no use for… those we have no tolerance for… and toss them over the wall that separates them from our hearts and minds. We call this wall “Them”. Behind the wall we can no longer see who They are and that is just how we like it.

“Them” is the pronoun of tragedy. After all, it’s us versus them.

A soldier does not aim his rifle at a father, husband or son. He aims at one of them. The gay soldier that appeared at that Republican debate was booed for being one of them: gay. Forget that he is a soldier and a mother’s son and so much more. He is one of them. The undocumented worker is not a poor woman trying to feed her family. She is one of them.  The occupier is a leftist hippie: One of them. The Tea Partier is a bigot: One of them. The politician is corrupt: One of them. The rich man is greedy: One of them. The poor man is lazy: One of them. Obama is a Muslim Kenyan Socialist:

Them Them Them.

It is so much easier to toss our enemies over the Them Wall. Then, we don’t have to listen to their arguments. All they do is lie. He is just a “libtard”, “racist” or a “corporate shill”. This is how we talk to each other. Oh wait, I’m sorry. This is how we talk at each other. We don’t talk to each other.

Not anymore.

Try to engage people in a political dialogue online. Unless you are in their preferred bubble, you will be tossed over the Them Wall. Suddenly, they are no longer arguing with you. They are arguing with a person who embodies everything they hate and calling that person “you”. Arguing with you is way too difficult. To do that they would have to respond to what you actually said. It is so much easier to break out that well rehearsed rant against “one of them”. By the end of the rant you will find yourself certain not only that the target of their rage is not you but this person, consisting entirely of a litany of negative stereotypes, does not exist at all.

This lack of genuine engagement is based on fear: a fear to confront the weaknesses in one’s own viewpoint. No one wants to be wrong so opposing arguments are shut out. No amount of evidence can convince a Birther of Obama’s citizenship. Anyone opposed to hardcore Truthers is dismissed as a “brainwashed”. This goes beyond the radical camps though. You will find a large crowd of “against” people but, even if they actually know what they are against (what the current tax policy is or what socialism actually means…) you are hard pressed to find out what they are for. Similarly, you will find staunch defenders completely unwilling to acknowledge any weaknesses (I mean, come on Mitt, bringing up the egregious increases in income equality is “the politics of envy”? Please!).

I do not believe in Them. I have traveled through the country and overseas. I have met thousands of people but I have never met “one of them”. That is not to say I do not have antagonists. There are certainly people I despise. There are some real monsters out there. I just don’t see them as Them.

There is only Us.

Goethe once said “There is no crime of which I deem myself incapable”. In this confession, he admits to his connection with all of mankind… even the worst of us. There are no angels or demons. We are darkness. We are light. We are human and it is in this way we should see each other. To turn an adversary into a cartoon character whether it is the “lazy hippie” protestor on one side or the scheming Mister Burns on the other is to engage with a wall. A protestor is not taking to the street because he doesn’t want to get a job and is “envious”. Neither is a member of the “one percent” scheming in dark rooms to exploit the masses. There are real differences in viewpoints that should be discussed but to assume that a person is driven by the lowest possible motivations is just infantile projection. A protestor is “working” to make the world better. A staunch defender of capitalism likely sees it as the best system for everyone and probably doesn’t relish in its downside.

Engaging each other by hurling insults over the Them Wall only entrenches us further into our very separate camps each holding shallow and impractical positions and makes any real progress in our society impossible. This country is a complicated place and if we are going to move forward we are going to have to learn to benefit from other people’s insights rather than block them out. To do this we are going to have to tear down the Them Wall and treat each other not as one of them but as one of us with whom we just happen to have a disagreement.

Besides making several under the underground hit albums, J.P. Whipple is also a not-famouspainter. He has authored several “too good to be published” works including an epic poem calledThe Toilet about an afterlife where souls are judge by Mother Earth. He has also started his own religion based on a prophet named Joel who preaches to the masses under the I-80 overpass. John does not wear shoes. In these tough times, it is necessary to cut out what is not necessary to save money. Not only does he save hundreds of dollars by not buying shoes but he finds it more difficult to blow money in bars as they usually throw him out for being barefoot before he can get a drink.  Learn more about John Whipple and what he does at his website.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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