"2014-077 - red vs blue" (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Couse-Baker

Us vs Them

*This is the first of the resurrected entries from my old blog, and Mrs C’s all-time favorite. Hope you enjoy!

Ben said, “I never found allegiance to any group appealing and I’m skeptical of folks who do.”

I clicked the like button, scooped up my lunch bag, and headed home from work. I was on my way to a night of organic beef homemade egg noodle spaghetti, garlic bread, and Black Mirror. It was Mrs C’s day off, so she was preparing a big batch of the stuff to get us through the week. We love leftovers. I love her spaghetti.

I thought about what Ben said at 3:17 in the morning. I never sleep for more than 5 hours on a Tuesday, so Wednesday morning is a great time to reflect on the day that passed, the day to come. Mrs C was sleeping to my right, Ludo at our feet. Moxie was on the floor on her side, like he always is. I think she was asleep, though my restlessness might have made her restless. Ludo got up and folded into my arms, as he sometimes does when he realizes I’m awake. He usually doesn’t stay for more than five or ten minutes. I suppose it’s his way of telling me that everything is alright. Or maybe his way of letting me tell him. He lay there for a good half hour, maybe 45 minutes.

I finally got out of bed at a quarter to five. I let my mind do a lot of thinking about Ben’s line in the 88 minutes in-between. I completely agree with it.

It reminds me a little of a piece I wrote recently, about how we are not but one thing. For some reason, we try to be. Maybe it’s safer that way, or easier. Easier to define ourselves if we can define our group allegiance. We don’t have to think so much about life, I suppose, we can just do what other Republicans would do. What other Christians would do. You can blank out those words and put in your own party or religion, or the ones you hate most, if you want. Just so you get the point. It’s all group-think.

This is why I can’t identify with jingoism. I believe that any flag that isn’t a symbol of freedom is just worthless cloth. Colin Kaepernick did more to adhere to the ideals of America by kneeling before the flag than his detractors did by scorning him for it. He’s the better patriot. If your democracy forces you into allegiance you don’t have a democracy anymore.

So, like Ben, I’m skeptical of anyone who swears allegiance to any group over all people. In our political discourse, the Democrats get it wrong just as often as the Republicans. In our little part of the world, which makes up less than 5% of the planet’s population, we divide ourselves into these two groups, anyway. Not entirely, actually. The most recent polling shows that only 31% of Americans identify as Democrats, and only 29% as Republicans. 38% of the nation identifies as Independent. That’s a relief. If you watch any TV at all you’d think it was all red and all blue and that we are in a civil war for the soul of a nation. If you’re on Twitter you might even think the split is 80/20 in your favor, weighted depending on who you follow.

I guess, then, that Ben and I only have to be politically skeptical of 60% of the country.

These are the very important thoughts that went through my brain, this morning, between 3:17 and 4:45, while cuddling with a golden retriever. My conclusion was the usual one: we are too polarized. The enemy is not us, but the corpocracy that governs us. They take our gains to fill their coffers and send our poor and young to die for old man greed. Then they tell us to worship their flag in the name of freedom. And we buy into it and we point our fingers at each other and tell each other that we are worshiping their greed wrong. In the meantime, our infrastructure fails. Our safety nets have holes. Tens of millions among us have inadequate health care. Millions in the United States do not have access to clean water. 46 million people live below the poverty line in what is arguably the richest country in the history of the world.

Our problem is not each other.

I don’t swear allegiance to any group. I am skeptical of folks that do. Every problem has a unique solution. Not a Republican one. Not a Democrat one. A human one. A humane one. Let’s step out of our political rivalries, then – our allegiances to leaders whose only interest is their own – and build a coalition for a better nation. A better people. A better world.

Anything else is just plain lazy.

2014-077 – red vs blue” (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Couse-Baker

24 thoughts on “Us vs Them

  1. It seems like a strange coincidence that, just a few moments ago, I had a brief conversation with a guy in the elevator about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. He’s having an argument with his wife’s family. About what to put on sweet potatoes. As he put it, “I’m Camp Marshmallows, they’re Camp Pecans.”
    I said, “Why not both?” and he invited me to join them.
    I know not every problem can be solved so simply, but we should be able to acknowledge that there’s a lot of room at the table.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think that you cover most people with the last sentence. I think that it is common to live your life mostly unexamined. I have been guilty of this.

    It’s also probably in our evolved DNA to be a bit tribal. Heck people can become fiercely loyal to their favorite football team. Are the Dallas Cowboys so important to you that you hang their flag in front of your house?

    Another thing that I have marveled at from time-to-time is what people put on their grave marker. I see military service on a lot of them. Membership in the freemasons. Either a vague belonging to a religion or more specific to the denomination level. My grandmother’s grave marker proclaims that she is a daughter of the Republic of Texas. This along with your name and start/end dates is how we are memorialized. It mostly seems like an attempt to make the job easier for future historians. Or maybe it was a case of “I didn’t know what else to put.”. I am not sure what I want put on mine.

    Enjoyed your blog post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very astute observations, Jason! I could unpack your three paragraphs all day and write entire blogs about several sentences. We are tribal. We do live our lives unexamined. It’s really, really hard to take a deep look inside and wonder, “can I fix this?” Not the world. Not the lady in front of you at Wal-Mart, but you. Can you fix you, first? I can. I’ve always believed I can.

      I’m a huge Rams fan. I might put a flag of the team out front if I had one, but I do wear my jersey to the bar, and I do have the license plate to tell the world that I’m Team Ram. But what you won’t see from me is a bumper sticker of a kid pissing on the other team, and in conversations you won’t hear me tell you your team sucks. Cuz it doesn’t. If you’re a fan of one of the others you’re a fan of one of the 32 best football teams in the nation, and that’s pretty good. And you’ll see your ups and downs, as a fan, and I can relate to that. Be a Seahawks fan. Be a Cowboys fan. Be a Bills fan. That’s awesome. And if you don’t like football be a Yankees fan or an Astros fan. Kudos to you. Like being a Republican or a Democrat or a Buddhist or a Muslim, those are all great things to be, as long as you’re respectful and kind to all the other people in all the other groups. I never ask a person to stop, say, being a Hick. I only ask them to stop being a Dick. That’s a bad club to be a part of.

      I have nothing against Donald Trump’s political party. He’s allowed to be a Republican and to fight for Republican things. My problem with him is he is also a dick, who throws hate on anyone not like him (or, more pointedly, not like those who exalt him). Don’t be a dick. Don’t vote for a dick.

      Thank you so much for a great response, Jason. Glad you enjoyed it!


      1. Well crap. I’m still a Houston Oilers fan. A dwindling fan-base to be sure. I still wear one of their sweatshirts from time to time for the fun of it. I like what you said about not having the bumper sticker of the kid pissing on the other team. I see that with Ford vs Chevy, or Canon vs. Nikon, etc. I heard someone describe it like the guy in the ice cream shop that not only doesn’t like a particular flavor, but he runs around knocking the ice cream cone out of the hand of anyone who does like it.

        My daughter used to seem to need approval for liking a particular band or music style and I always just told her to like what she likes; doesn’t matter what anyone else likes. Apparently in school, some student give others crap if they like a particular band or whatever. Sounds familiar to school in the 80s.

        Yeah, that’s the problem I had with Trump. And it is the problem that the Republican party should have had with him. He’s an ignorant bloviating jerk.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well said, that’s exactly what he his. And the Oilers! Those old Houston teams gave us two of the greatest, most unstoppable, icons in sports. Warren Moon in the run-and-shoot, and Earl Campbell running over defenders with that tear-away shirt. I miss those teams.


  3. Thank you, B! I will find that one, too, though it’s not titled in my roughs with those words. I’m reading through them all to see which are worthy (and then I’ll probably post the “unworthy” ones later, too ;)). I’m disturbed I cannot find #FreeLudo anywhere, and I’m a little afraid now that is was the rare one that I composed on WordPress. Shame, I really liked that one.

    Thanks again! Hang around, new and old stuff coming. Feeling inspired of late!


  4. Always enjoy your insights. Having a child growing into a teen and then adulthood I am trying to instill in her to form her own opinions. I identify as catholic but literally everything I personally believe flies on the face of Roman Catholics. I say live and let love not my place to judge or anyone else’s when people are just living lives for basic rights. I teach my daughter how I was raised but tell her that her life choices are hers. That everything is relative. When she says school is hard and stressful I don’t reply wait until your an adult enjoy it. I tell her it’s relative, if I was 11 years old school would be equally as hard me being a parent and working and life because that is as much life experience she has she’s 11. It’s all relative . I taught her racism exists but no one is born racist . I teach her that as right as we feel about our convictions other feel the same about theirs and that no one should ever force their beliefs on others. If someone asks offer a kind word and explanation but never say I am right over you because no one knows. We may identify as one thing , but free thought should be encouraged to define what that label really means for ourselves, it would be hard to say I don’t know who I am or what I believe . I am for common sense is what I say. Common sense and being good to others and affecting the world in a way that leaves it better than when you left it. Hope my daughter continues to be the most kind accepting person I have ever conversed with. She loves everyone and will defend anyone from abuses. I admire her for that and aspire to be her and she’s 11.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an awesome response, and incredible worldview, Deeds. You are teaching that young lady right, and you’re not stopping with your own growth along the way. That’s perfect! With a guide like that, your daughter is going to be a fine adult, and we could use a lot more of those. Live and let live. Have your own point of view but accept the points of view of others. Common sense. That can be a tricky one, since there doesn’t seem to be anything in common with what different people call sense. It’s common sense, to me, that we should have universal health care and tougher gun laws, and that seems to fly in the face of the “common sense” right. That’s okay. We see the world differently. The power of our compromise could change the world.

      Thanks for reading, DeDe. Great seeing y’all on Saturday!


  5. Excellent post, and not only because you got to cuddle a Golden Retriever. I’ve been going back to Orwell lately–his ‘Notes on Nationalism’ has never been more true, and I think you are definitely in sync with him here.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Orwell’s essays are fascinating–Thoughts on the Common Toad is one of my favourites, but his essay on Dali, Benefit of Clergy, is awesome–it deals with the whole issue of can you like the art if the artist is morally corrupt?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome back, Kim! Life on the road, eh? 🙂 Thank you so much for being a part of the story!

      I should point out that I swear allegiances all the time — to my marriage, to my workplace, to my family and my group of friends — but that when I say I swear allegiance to nothing I mean the total, blind kind.

      I should point that out, but I won’t. You get it! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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