Us vs. Them

I kind of get a kick out of folk who have strong (often negative) opinions about Them- but cannot name one of Them to save their life. Until you are in relationship with one of Them, it may be that you’ve not earned the right to speak against Them. Then, you actually get to know one of Them, and the argument against Them breaks down pretty quickly. The irony is that the person you actually know is “the exception” nearly every time.

Its too easy to demonize and dehumanize the other. C.S. Lewis retells Greek tragedy in “Til We Have Faces” and recognizes that until you can put a name and face to the Other, they are your enemy- but if your enemy has a face and a name, its becomes impossible to hate them. This is, i suppose, why Romeo and Juliet is so powerful- two kids who refuse to accept the blanket hatred of the Other and learn to love one of Them.

To further indulge the Inklings: “The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he comes from, and if he really was evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home, and would he not rather have stayed there… in peace? War will make corpses of us all.” -Faramir, TTT 

Drawing from his own experiences in war, Tolkien writes through Faramir of his own inability to hate another when standing over the corpse of the “enemy” and looking into his now-uncovered face. Its a stark and brutal picture that checks my righteous indignation.

Christ urges us to love our enemies- it begins by getting to know them.


One Comment on “Us vs. Them”

  1. futuristguy says:

    Important observations, Dave. I’ve not been able to track down the exact source of this C.S. Lewis quote, but I’ve used it for over a decade: “Hatred blurs all distinctions.”

    Our inability to see individuals because of a hated group, or to see a group because of hated individuals, turns These into Those, and Those into Them.

    Hmm … don’t recall there being a theological division of Them-ology, though I’m fairly certain I’ve met more than a few Them-ologists, and, sadly, for sure been one myself on occasion …

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