Us Versus Them

We. A film based on the words of Arundhati Roy

The defining conflict of the 20th century tends to be characterized as Democracy versus Totalitarianism. First, the Fascist dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin, then the spectre of Communist Russia.

By the turn of the century, it appeared that Democracy had won. Then suddenly, a new threat emerged to fill the hole: Islamic fundamentalists.

It’s tempting to see this struggle as something new and far different than previously fought. After all, nations can be reasoned with, truces negotiated, cease-fires declared. But terrorists (theoretically) want nothing less than to destroy or convert the infidels.

Bush Jr. made it clear when he stated, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” There is no middle ground in this war.

And so the 21st century’s defining conflict has become Religious Fundamentalists versus Freedom. Or has it?

The real issue is revealed when you look closely enough.

Distilled even further: Good versus Evil.

Finally, you arrive at: Us versus Them.

The current struggle is simply another incarnation of the previous wars. The enemy changes, but the position remains the same.

Rather than continue to replace one external threat with another, I believe the real challenge of the 21st century will be whether we can transcend the destructive mental illusion that we are separate from others.

We must go beyond Us versus Them.


  1. Us versus Them is a cop-out by those who seek to simplify conflict for person power gains. To truly remedy conflict, you need a much more sophisticated view of the situation. I think that’s something this new US administration can bring to the table, if only the rest of the country moves beyond their shallow worldview.

  2. Agreed Scott – I think that’s one of Obama’s strongest characteristics. He doesn’t cast conflict in black and white, therefore, it opens up the space to have a dialogue about what the issues really are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *