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SCOT BELLAVIA: It Is Only ‘Us Versus Them’

Remember, in his inaugural address, when Joe Biden preached of his hope to unify us? He prodded our emotions from a fortnight prior when right-wing extremists ransacked the Capitol Building, as if we goldfish had forgotten the year prior when many of his voters ransacked major cities.

As a first act as president, Biden lassoed his listeners as one and used “we” for the remainder of the speech. But there is no “we” in a nation that, as they say, “has never been more divided,” where it’s “us versus them.”

“Lighten up, Scot. We’ve got to look for common ground. And ‘versus’ is a bit combative; don’t you think?”

I’ll grant that. A pacifying, synonymic phrase might be ‘either/or.’ Still, this keeps a notion of ‘other,’ and even that won’t do in our postmodern hemisphere where discord is violently denounced. Still, there’s no escaping this perpetual dual duel.

So, let’s as Westerners stop complaining about the “us versus them” mindset. It is only us or them, this or that, either or or, or something else. Sure, we can Be Kind and COEXIST, but let’s not pretend we don’t wish the world would agree with us.

It’s said the East doesn’t operate with this dichotomy. They reportedly live “non-dualistically.” Western yogis and universalists hurriedly embrace this term, thinking it’s a supreme alternative to our cold black and white. They see it as the third and correct choice of worldview in the name of unity.

The irony is that the(ir) only recourse is ‘us versus them’: “We believe non-dualism is correct and those who don’t are wrong.”

The “non-dualism” of the East is a perspective that focuses on harmony, not in the sense of unification and peace but as an ordering of the world. Meanwhile, we are so rooted in dualism that the only way we can conceive of a term to describe a worldview without it is to prefix ‘non.’ But that’s a misnomer, because theirs is not our opposite; it is wholly different. It manifests in untold ways I can’t even begin to analogize.

We are all thus left with ‘us versus them.’ To look for any other choice is to succumb to this human reality.

Scot Bellavia

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