Back in 1987, a group of elite commandos arrived in a Central American jungle to combat a force of guerrilla soldiers only to end up protecting the Earth from a race of galactic sport hunters. 6 years later, a multi-national group of teenagers came together to fight pollution through the use of magical rings that could summon the elements and when combined, manifest an eco-friendly super hero. Finally, on July 4th, 1996 the combined might of the planet’s military forces coordinated an offensive strike against gigantic space crafts after a team consisting of a black air force pilot and Jewish TV repairman discovered a weakness in the invaders’ defensive capabilities. What did these groups all have in common? They all came together despite cultural differences to make sure that a bunch of self-serving jerks didn’t screw up the Earth.
Fast forward about a decade and we find ourselves at a point where a new group of self-serving jerks are attempting to screw up the planet again, only this time they’re not aliens or people mutated by the effects of pollution. Despite being humans themselves, they have made it their crusade to turn us against each other through misinformation and manipulation. What they want is control and while people don’t tend to enjoy being controlled, we’re falling right in line with their misguided plans. They too have a weakness, which also happens to be their greatest strength and that’s us.
Who is “us” you may ask? “Us” is humanity, “us” is not defined by physical characteristics or cultural differences, “us” includes everyone, even those I mentioned above. The great thing about “us” is that we can live how we want to live, love who we want to love and do whatever makes us happy as long as it doesn’t oppress or restrict the lifestyles of the rest of “us”. You don’t have to 100% agree with “us” but that doesn’t make you any less of a member of “us”, nor does it diminish your ability to enact change in the faults of “us”.
The biggest weakness of “us” is when people start feeling like “them”. No one wants to be “them”, you can’t be “us” when you’re “them”. Them is cold, lonely and often times, no longer human. No one chooses to be “them”, this is a title forced onto a person who has every right to be one of “us”. Unfortunately, “them” is the result of fear, fear that eventually creates antagonistic situations where “us” is pitted against “them”. No one comes away happy when it’s “us” vs “them”, not even those that would prefer this division. “Us” and “them” will never get along. “Us” and “them would get annihilated if aliens actually attacked.
The sad thing is “us” vs. “them” is easy because it’s simpler to define “us” and “them” by a strict set of characteristics. When “us” is easily identifiable, it means a person knows what to do to make sure they don’t become “them”. The thing is, if we worked towards making “us” stronger as a group, the idea of “them” would never come into play.
Call me ideological, but I truly believe in a world where we can diminish or outright do away with this idea of “us” vs “them”. Perhaps it won’t happen in our lifetime, but having that hopes makes every day feel that much more worthwhile. I realize that relating our current situation to science fiction stories from my childhood may seem a bit unrealistic, but are they any more unrealistic than what we’re being fed on a regular basis?