An “us versus them” mentality reinforces self-centeredness and divides Americans one from another. We must be constantly aware of when others – or ourselves – use ‘Us vs. Them’ thinking and must reject it everywhere it is found. Viewing any other human as ‘them’, or as ‘other’ sets us up to elevating ourselves as being better than others.
This ‘Us vs. Them’ mindset most often leads to hate, to division, and to discrimination. When taken further, ‘Us vs. Them’ thinking can lead to genocide or to war. While such thinking may seem small and of little significance, it is the root of hate and violence. We make always be vigilant for thinking and rhetoric that artificially and wrongly pits Americans against one another. It is the ultimate form of unkindness. Conversely, acceptance of others is the greatest form of kindness there is. Acceptance does not necessarily means approval, but that we accept where people are right now and who they are right now. Alcoholics Anonymous has a wonderful saying that is very appropriate here:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” (Page 449 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous)
Acceptance is merely about no longer fighting the world. It does not mean we are happy with how the world is or that we give up working to improve it. Acceptance just means that we are ok with others and with life the way it is right here, for now. When we are unhappy about something it is usually because we have been unable to accept it the way it is for now – today. Accepting something we cannot change is key to being able to move on and be happy. The things we can change over time, we can accept the way they are today while working to make it better tomorrow.
Accepting things we cannot change (including others) is a key to being happy in the present moment. This makes our task of being kind in the present moment easier as well. It is our kindness that will connect us one to another on an emotional level. It says, “I value you” and “You’re important”. The simple act of kindness and empathy actively minimizes the “us versus them” mentality.