Saturday, September 06, 2008

Us vs. Them

I have come across many different variations of the 'us vs. them' conflict over the last few weeks. And I only say over the last few weeks, because thats all that I've paid attention to it. I know that it has always been there.

In my coursework, the theme has been on the sociology of education and how conflicts have existed since the founding of schools in America. In an effort to create a new, unified nation, schools served as the true melting pot. The goal of schools were to Americanize all citizens -- to create a common ideology, religion, culture, language and allegiance to their country. This of course affected those who were not of the country's majority: white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

In education, in politics, in foreign and domestic relations, in science... it seems that all conflicts all stem from religion. From one being more correct than the other. And it's usually the social elite that determined that their view was the 'right' one and that everyone else was wrong and that it was their duty as Americans to save those savages and bring them to the righteousness of their faith and all that it entails.

The school system was often seen as a way to screen out members of society to determine if they would be put on the education track to advance to universities and become the leaders of tomorrow, or if they would be put on a vocational track to become the workers of tomorrow. Often these decisions were made by standardized tests. But if you consider the discrimination already in place in schools, more often than not, privileged students of middle to upper-class society were put on the college-prep track and under-privileged students of lower class society were put on the vocational track. So the gap between the upper-class elite and the lower class commoners continued to exist and become wider.

Republican, Right Wing, Christian Conservative, small government vs. Democrat, Left Wing, Liberal, big government. One provides the safety net, the other provides the push towards self-reliance.

Foreign & Domestic Relations
You hear the comments, "America - love it or leave it", "Speak English only." Historically, there has not been a lot of tolerance for different cultures in America. And around the world, our goal is to spread God-fearing Democracy whether they like it or not.

Evolution versus Creationism. Advancement of medial science versus moral and ethical debates. Beating the Communists to the moon.

Everything has been passed through the filter of us vs. them. What ever happened to we?

I have to believe that it's reasonable that every person would want everyone to have access to fair and equal education. That all parties want a strong, safe, healthy and prosperous nation. That we want basic human rights, not just for Americans but for all citizens of the world. That we push the limits of human ingenuity and aspire to scientific advancement that better mankind and the environment. It should not matter if you call your guidance God, Allah, Yahweh, Mother Earth, The Creator, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all.

As for me, this is what I believe:
  • I was raised Catholic, but no longer prescribe to that faith. I blame it on Man's fallibility rather than on religion's.
  • I can be close to 'something bigger than myself' without following a particular faith, doctrine or creed.
  • Live by the Golden Rule.
  • Everyone is equal: men and women; white, black and every shade in between; King and Peasant. As I tell my mom all the time, "The Pope shits, too."
  • It's not who you love, but how you love. (Thanks, Kevin Smith!)
  • Actions have consequences. Karma, fate or divine intervention -- call it whatever you want.
  • You get out of life what you put into it. Hard work and determination will take you far. But sometimes a hand to help you up or a kick in the ass is needed.
  • And most importantly, burgers, a beach and Bruce can solve any personal crisis.

I didn't have an agenda in writing this. I have no intention of starting a debate because I assume that to mean that the goal is to change mine or someone else's beliefs - and I don't really care that much.

But there are polarizing events like politics and religion, and other events that bring people together like the Olympics and the Stand Up 2 Cancer event last night, and I wonder why? What breaks the barriers and unites human to a common cause?

Why can we all just get along?

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