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Us against Them – Jotting Joan

Us against Them

“Why must it always be us against them, neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Why must it always be us against them?” those lines from a song written years ago by the late Robert Hancock of El Dorado echo through my brain lately.
Perhaps, it began as I read about Saul in the Bible going from city to city, searching for believers in The Way. He did not like Them. With the permission of Jewish leaders he arrested Them. He stood by and watched one, Stephen, stoned to death for speaking his belief to a crowd. Us against Them, and according to Saul, “We won!”
Of course, if you know the Bible, you also know that God grabbed Saul’s attention, and Saul became Paul – the top man and writer for The Way. Saul/Paul became part of Them and was one of the first that the Roman government arrested in their Us against Them campaign. Around 300 A.D. the Roman emperor declared he preferred Them and their way over his way. He made all of his nation part of Them.
If only that had sufficed, It dd not. The new Roman way established their own US for the right way of worship. Centuries of religious wars of Us against Them followed.
Some left the country of their birth in order to worship, live and believe their way. In American history the immigrants are known as the Pilgrims and Puritans (P&P). In England and Europe, the P & P represented Them. In the new world, P&P became Us. Any newcomers who did not conform emerged became the new Them. Punishments for wearing the wrong clothes, saying prayers at the wrong time or even talking at the wrong time lead to the wilderness exile of Them.
In recent years, the lines have been drawn almost as fiercely between political parties. If you do not think, do or speak as We do, you are part of Them and scorned. Part of the Us vs. Them in the political parties reminds me of the Dr.. Seuss book “The Sneetches”
The short story opens, “Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars. Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.”
It mattered. If you did not have a star, you could not join in the fun at the exclusive spots set aside for just the Sneetches with stars. One day Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives. He sees the plight of the non-starred Sneetches. He provides access to a machine to put stars on Them. Suddenly no one can tell the Us from the Them.
Sort of like looking back through the history of our two major parties and seeing the top leaders flip from one side to the other to conform to the acceptable viewpoints of the moment. Today your idea excludes you from the favorite beaches. Tomorrow, put on a star and you are on top again.
Getting the star did not work. Shocked at the idea of including the former starless Sneetches, those with stars have their stars removed. Stars became passe’. Frustrated, the newly starred Sneetches enter the star remover. All too soon, according to Dr. Seuss the Sneetches race back and forth to McBean’s two machines putting on and taking off stars until they have spent all their money. McBean chuckles, counts his riches, folds up his machines and drives away declaring, “They will never learn.”
McBean was wrong. That day the Sneetches decided that Sneetches are Sneetches. And any kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches with or without stars became friends.
Too bad the Sneetches in America have not learned this.. It is wearisome to hear another version of Us against Them when they all need to determine to work together on issues. Those issues need to be addressed before the McBeans of this world drive away with overflowing bank accounts saying, “they’ll never learn.”