Us and Them

 

The teacher who stays after school to give extra help to a student who needs it, is a true teacher.

The teacher who mocks a student who’s having trouble learning, is a child abuser with a teaching certificate.

The priest who cries with you, says a prayer with you when your loved one dies, is a true religious leader.

The priest who molests an altar boy is a pedophile wearing a priest’s robes.

The police officer who talks a distraught stranger out of jumping from a bridge truly believes he must protect and serve.

The police office who holds down an unarmed man and kills him by kneeling on his neck is a murderer wearing a blue uniform.

When we excuse the inexcusable vileness of anyone in the latter three groups, how much harder are we making the career lives of the truly good in the former three groups? How soon before a true teacher gets burned out, a true religious leader questions his faith, or a true officer of the law leaves the force in disgust?

To make excuses for evil deeds done to our students, our children, our fellow citizens, because we worship a title the evildoer holds, or the uniform the evildoer wears, is to think like a child, a child who wants to feel protected, who wants to believe in superheroes.

I believe in God. I believe in myself. But I’ve known since I was ten that superheroes are in comic books and high budget movies only.

Why are “they” rioting? How does it help “them”?

I don’t know how it helps. I don’t know, because I walk around in white skin. And putting aside for the moment the dangers of being female, I know my white shell protects me. If I talk back to a cop when he pulls me over for a ticket, chances are I won’t end up inexplicably dead in my jail cell the next day. If I go on a picnic, I never have to worry that someone will come after me with a gun. If I ask someone to leash their dog, the most that will happen is that I will get an irritated response. I never have to fear that what I am by way of nature will be used against me as a threat on my life. I never have to worry that when my son or my husband leave the house, they leave with a target on their backs. They can go for a jog, or buy a toy gun, or wear a hoodie, or have too many drinks in a bar, and chances are I will see them again, alive.

So, I don’t know how rioting helps “them”. Are there looters out there who are opportunists? I don’t know for sure, but I would guess yes, because good and evil come in all colors, all titles, and all clothes.

But what I do know is that it took months for there to be arrests in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, that good cops leave the force all the time because evil men wearing cop uniforms steal the lives of unarmed men with black skin too often, and get away with it too often. And that too often, we don’t see these crimes as crimes against ALL OF US, against every citizen, we see it as a crime against “them.”

And “them” is any group that’s not “us,” right?

So, what’s your particular “us?” Because, you see, my particular “us” and your particular “us”, is somebody else’s “them.”

And we should do well to remember that, because one day, it will be our turn to be “them.”

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Comments

  1. Patricia, I always appreciate your honest, vulnerable, and compassionate posts — you say what needs to be said. The truth is, there is no real “us” or “them.” There is only “we.” It’s when we divide people into groups and categories and then make judgments about the people in those groups because of the actions of a few that we dehumanize and create these artificial separations.

    It’s human nature and part of our survival strategy to categorize. If we could just see people as individuals instead of groups we might begin to make progress. Individuals who harm others, whatever their job title or uniform or color, need to be stopped. And individuals who help others, no matter their job title or uniform or color, should be rewarded.

    And in the meantime, we have a nation that is hungry, angry, tired of abuse and lack of positive leadership. We need healing. How do we get to there from here?

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