Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who are the "terrorists", and who is "us", and who is "them" (and who is my ingroup, *really*)?

Brooke asks

why is hamas considered a terrorist organization but not the israeli government - or the us government for that matter? i don’t understand what deliniates terrorist versus legitimate. is it terrorist when the bombs are handmade and legitimate when they are factory made? i don’t understand, i really really don’t understand.

My first reaction (and this is typical for me)--I want to go to Wikipedia and see what the article on terrorism says (love of learning). But I didn't really need to--it says pretty much what I would have thought it was going to say, if I had thought for a moment.

This use of language is as old as humanity. "They" are bad, pagan, heathen, heretics, communists, terrorists, fascists, etc. etc. (these "they"s, as you can see, spring from my own particular place/time of existing.) It's a way to ... feel safe, or retain control, or ....

Here's an interesting question: Ask people what first comes to mind when you say "They--those people".

For me: Happy people, republicans, the military, Evangelicals, jingoists,

This leads to the other question: What comes to mind when I say "We-us"? For me: my family. Americans. Depressed people. Weird people. People who love to read.

I see that I don't find much comfort from either of my lists: outgroups nor ingroups. Which leads me to the question: What groups *do* I find comfort in listing (maybe this will help me identify my true ingroups?)?

What comes to mind when I say "comfort"?: Megs, E., C., university (aha--there's an interesting one), learning, 12 steps, Dad, Russell and Nath, Tony and Diana, Bill and Mary, David D., Sam and Becca, Seren, Kate, The Healing Center, James B and Renee, ....

I feel astoundingly happy right now, having made that last list. Hooray!


Joe said...

I guess it is at least as old as the Roman/Barbarian divide. Calling people names has always been a part of dehumanising them.

Karin said...
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Karin said...

To me the challenge is to increase the number of people I think of as 'us'. If I think of someone as 'them' or 'they' - someone not like me - I need to stop and ask myself why. We are all human beings, we are all capable of feeling love and pain, we all have that 'something of God' within us.

In Israel-Palestine, the more contact people have with those on the other side, the more they learn to understand each other, the more they will think of each other as 'us', and the bogeyman 'they' will become less and less real.

Megs said...

hello lovely Bens. It's good to have you home! I love being in your inny-est in group!