Us vs. Them: We over They

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Leviticus 19:18

I came across an article commenting on the idea of “us” versus “them” in our culture, including museums (I work in the field). That got me thinking about how that relates to our identities, thoughts, and behaviors as believers and followers of Christ. We live in a day where various identities and groups are vying for the position to be heard and whether we agree or not, our own prejudices, fears, and lack of concern based on our own experiences can impede our choice to listen. What I mean by “listen” isn’t yielding our choices/beliefs to another’s choices/beliefs; it means consciously seeing an opportunity for dialogue and opening an ear (albeit a wise one). The article referenced Rudyard Kipling’s poem “We and They” and how our othering of people who are unlike us (sometimes other Believers) overlooks the fact that we are all “others,” but are also “we”. If we’re not careful, pointing our fingers at the “Department of They” can lead us away from Christ’s call to love. Now loving doesn’t necessarily mean we co-sign on everything the other person does, but it does mean we can meet each other where we are. So here’s to being wise with our love and with our ears because while othering may provide a sense of differentiation and and recognition of attributes and characteristics, we may diminish each other’s humanity. This can lead to dividing a nation, a family, and a home.

“We and They”

by Rudyard Kipling

Father and Mother, and Me,
  Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
  And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
  While We live over the way,
But-would you believe it? --They look upon We
  As only a sort of They!

We eat pork and beef
  With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
  Are horrified out of Their lives;
While they who live up a tree,
  And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous? ) look upon We
  As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
  They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
  We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
  We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
  As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
  We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
  Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
  They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
  As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
  And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
  And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
  Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
  As only a sort of They!
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