Monday, July 6, 2009

There is no "us" and "them"

I newly discovered this great site called TED. It has video podcasts on various topics from all sorts of innovative speakers. One that really touched my heart was the following talk by Diane Benscoter. As a former Moonie she's made a study of what kind of processes go into making someone go to the extremes for their particular set of beliefs.

She makes a valid point near the end: if a problem is of human origin we can tackle it ourselves. Instead of relying on God, the government or whatever higher power you may find yourself believing in. Because that would be making the same mistake again.

Think your own thoughts
Be aware though: Believing you're on the right side of the conflict is not the way out. As long as you're willing to make the other person into an enemy, dehumanize them or perceive them as essentially different from you, you're falling victim to the oldfashioned "us and them" paradigm.

The way out of this whole mess is through critical thinking. Asking yourself and each other the kinds of questions that open our minds, rather than close it. It's being open to different solutions, new modes of thinking, rather than settling for a new solidified "truth". It takes being aware, awake to all possibilities, aware of your own needs and wants and curious about someone elses.

Jonestown, Abu Grahib, Nazi Germany, terrorism and anti-terrorism all use the same logic. Any kind of thinking that points to a possible villain is part of the old modes of thinking. It's time to do away with such blanket judgements and start thinking of ourselves as one human family and figure out a way to avoid killing each other.

What if there was a war and nobody went?
Fortunately these are also the times when great movements are happening. More perhaps than ever before we are working together to solve problems, learning to use non-violent communication, finding new ways of resolving conflicts. The world is becoming a less violent place. We're learning, albeit slowly, to cherish and love one another.

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