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Letter to the Editor: Unity co-founder on ‘Us’ and ‘Them’
Letter to the Editor generic


Do you find people from the South tend to be more cliquishness and clannishness or that “Us” and “Them” attitude than the rest of the country? We ask this because we have lived all over the country and countries at one time or another (as many of you transplants have) and found it to be more prevalent in the South.

Now before someone bashes us for being against people from the South, we currently live in the South and have for 8 years. My wife on the other hand was born and raised in Tennessee. And we love the South and it’s natural beauty and some of the people that call themselves southerners. Yet the “US” people are more comfortable when they are among those with whom they share common backgrounds, customs, traits and values. When they are among the “Them” people, they may feel a sense of unease, even of estrangement.

The “Us” people might tell you that they bear no ill-will or prejudice towards the “Them” folks. They would explain that the them may be perfectly nice individuals, but “they’re just very different” from the us.

The “Them” and the “Us” might live in the same town(s), go to the same school(s) or college(s), they might work in the common businesses, offices or church(s), and they might enjoy similar recreational activities. But the “Them” will seldom be included in the “Us” tribe intentionally and openly.

Of course, who is deemed “Us or “Them” is in the eye of the beholder or created by our cultural conditioning. The aforementioned us might well be considered as them by the previous them, who see themselves as the “real” us. And again, the them would decidedly not be included under the new “Us’s” tribe.

Some would say, “It is what it is.” Or this is too confusing.

The point is that we often have a “glass house” phenomenon in society, where we often live in “emotionally-gated communities.” There is visual access and perhaps verbal communication between “Us” and “Them”, but little genuine expressed interest in each other, seldom exchanged ideas and feelings, and almost no meaningful (positive) emotional involvement.

Down this slippery slope we have the makings of two universes with different cultures living “together but separately” in a quietly strained status quo. Further down that slope lies racism, prejudice,

xenophobia, and animosity between the us and the them, all too often seen nowadays.

Again, we also have found this to be more common in the South than other places in the country. Some people that were born and raised here said this was a trait southerners need to learn to lose especially when it comes people of color and different people from up north and other parts of the world.

Now this does not mean that all southerners are like this or even that the majority are like this in this local area.

The question is when will we ever learn that we can become a unified community of generic people, diverse but equal. And this is also in our best interests. Our very survival depends on our living together in harmony. If we put our gifts of human intelligence and creativity and spirituality to work in the service of improving our empathy, communication and “Our Emotional Footprint,” our species will thrive, not just survive.

Remember Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace.”

Craig Butts

Unity in the Community

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