Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

I’ve Had Enough of “Them”

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“Will we ever understand? Or is the fate of man at hand? Will we live or shall we die?

How will we ever know if we never try?”

-Lenny Kravitz, What the Fuck Are We Saying


It can mean different things. It can be people who look different. It can be people of different nations. Different cultures. People who pray to a different god. People who love differently. People who live a different lifestyle.

Them. It’s a lie. I don’t believe in it. I don’t subscribe to the cult of judgement that seems to accompany the mentality of them.

They must be savages to riot in the street.

They must have done something to deserve being shot while unarmed.

They must not be strong enough/ have enough faith/ love enough to take their own life.

They must be filthy and ignorant to be ravaged with a horrendous virus.

They must believe in an evil god to live in perpetual war.

Statements dripping in self righteousness and contempt. Statements born of fear or ignorance or shame. Or all three. But nothing written or shouted or proclaimed from such a place is ever true. These things are not uttered in an attempt to help, to discuss, to heal. To rectify or repair. No, these words and others like them are a fallacy meant to perpetuate the myth of them.

Is it comforting, the idea of them? Is it a primal mindset we have yet to outgrow?

Lately it’s been too much to take. The harshness. The shrill. It’s become deafening. The evening news has become my affliction. Social media has become a playground for the ignorant to show their bitter hearts. And I’m wondering when it will all be done. When will we collectively say enough? When will people push through the bullshit of themThe other people. People not like you. It is so simplistic in it’s thinking that I wonder how this mindset has survived all these years. Decades. Centuries. How does fallacy survive? How does it endure?

“The government’s the devil’s hands. It’s a lie and it’s a scam. They wind us up, put us down and watch us go. And if you close your eyes, there’s a big surprise”

A piece of dirt in a disputed land. A land claimed by both sides as holy ground. Powers on both sides committing crimes and atrocities. All in the name of religion. People dying and children orphaned or maimed or traumatized. Because of them. They pray to a different god. They tread on our sacred ground. They are different from us. Propaganda demonizes the enemy. Because war cannot continue if people don’t believe in them. People on both sides. They will grow weary and war tired if they are allowed to see similarities.

Palestinians crying after seven children were killed by bombs in a refugee camp (Mahmud Hams/ AFP)
Palestinians crying after seven children were killed by bombs in a refugee camp (Mahmud Hams/ AFP)
Israeli's taking refuge from Hamas rockets in a sewer pipe (Reuters)
Israeli’s taking refuge from Hamas rockets in a sewer pipe (Reuters)

And the people caught in the middle? The people who retreat to a bomb shelter throughout the day? The people who’s children are killed and who’s homes are destroyed? They aren’t that different. They want to live in peace. Comfort. Security. They want it all to stop. They want to be able to eat and work and play and raise their families. But it won’t stop. Not until we stop seeing them. Not until we start seeing us. Seeing our children’s faces in a sewer pipe. Seeing our lives and hearts ripped apart because our child was killed by a senseless war that rages on. One that feeds on the notion of them.

 “I’ve been lost in the name of love. And we kill our brothers daily in the name of god. We’d better chill before we take on some tribulation. And if we realized? Then we’d make a little love”

Yet another young black man killed. Unarmed. Shot. More than once. Unarmed and walking down the street. Not a new story. A story as old as our nation. A story that continues to play out with heartbreaking frequency. A story that continues because of them.

And I’m angry. Because we should be better than this. I’m angry because I don’t care what he was wearing or what symbols or signs he flashed in a photo that seems to become some kind of implicit justification. Because he was shot. He was unarmed and he was killed. And this has happened again. And again.

(N.Y. Daily News)
(N.Y. Daily News)

I’m angry because it is clear that if you look a certain way you are living in danger every day that you venture out in the world. Because of how you look. Because of assumptions rooted in ignorance and hatred. Because of ideas that are so ingrained that many people don’t even realize they subscribe to them. And it doesn’t matter that he was college bound. But the nature of such incidents is to place the burden on the deceased to prove that they had a future. It cannot be assumed that they had a future. It must be stated and reiterated and shouted from a megaphone. That he had a future. The sick cruel nature of our world. To value the life of someone over another based on a certain path deemed worthy. Because if he wasn’t on a particular path, he wasn’t us. He was them.

There is no them.

There’s just us.

Strip away the superficial. The colors, the accents, the mannerisms, the dialects.

The religions.

Eliminate them because they are superfluous. They don’t matter.

And what do you have? The same. The same red blood coursing through blue veins. The same hearts, four chambers pumping life sustaining blood. The same brains firing off directions and information and knowledge. The same hearts. The hearts that ache with loss. The hearts that want peace and safety. The hearts that yearn for life and joy and love. Boil it all down. That’s what we all want. The rest is bullshit. Life. Laughter. Dignity. Security. That’s what they want. Just like you. They are like you.

I’ve had enough of them.

I’m tired of political leaders and power grabbers and game players and antiquated prejudice telling me about them. I’m tired of the delusion being repeated. Causing damage. Destruction. Death. Shame. Disgrace. Someone somewhere has a stake in them. Someone needs to keep us in fear. Someone profits or exalts or rejoices in division rather than unity. Someone wants to inhibit change and progress. Someone wants to see only the differences instead of the similarities.

Look around. Watch. Listen to what people say. Look for them. Whether it’s politicians from disparate parties. Whether it is land hungry dictators. Whether its someone trying to justify a boy being gunned down. Whether it is people offering an overly simplistic view of mental illness and suicide. Whether its people advocating sending immigrant children back to the horrors they just fled. If they are speaking in them, then there’s an agenda. If they are speaking in them, there’s no will to unite or to bring together or to resolve. The aim is to divide further. To fortify the barriers to progress. To keep us in a place of judgement and hate.

And when you see it, don’t buy into it.

Don’t let them cloud your thinking.

Call them out.

Call bullshit on them. 

‘Cause I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of them.


27 Responses

    1. I probably need to turn off the news and disconnect a little because it really starts to get to me. Last night I couldn’t sleep because I was following the craziness in Ferguson on Twitter.

      I really want to just wake people up that they are buying into so much divisiveness. (Not everyone of course) I see so much of it on Facebook especially. And you’re right, the people that like to judge and discriminate generally aren’t open to hearing this. But I do believe there are more people that care and want it all to stop. I hope there are. But I have been accused more than once of being a hopeless optimist…

    1. The answer is to start recognizing this. So many of us (me included) get caught up in the spin and really, it does no one any good. If we start seeing through the people who want to block progress and keep us divided then we can stop listening to them, stop voting for them. Here in the U.S. it has reached a level that I’ve never seen before. Beyond that I have no answer. I wish I did. Ultimately it comes down to who you vote for, who you listen to, whose words you pass along. But people just repeat stuff and advocate stuff because they are viewing things as us versus them. Of course, that’s just my opinion, my take on things.

  1. I just had a conversation with someone about this the other day, about how hard it is not to hate *them*–the ones who spout intolerance and sow divisions. When I separate me from them, it’s anther line drawn, another division made. Because they, too, are us. So what does one do but try to love them, too? Maybe they need it most, but it is hard.

    In another conversation I said that governments don’t really want us united. They want us at one another’s throats because we’re easier to control that way. If we all started treating each other with dignity and respect, then we might expect the same treatment from the government.

    1. Yes! Yes! I mean, I’m guilty of it! Someone spews something Rush Limbaugh said on Facebook and I want to scream! Or this week, the people saying that Robin Williams should have relied on faith to save him. Those people, I wanted to physically hurt. Not that I ever would, but geez. I completely agree with what you said about governments wanting us to stay divided. It serves their interests of power and greed. If they keep us fighting over some things it distracts us from other stuff. If they keep us at each other’s throats then they can manipulate us into supporting ridiculous things.

  2. There is just US
    Funny how such a simple statement is so very true and yet so far from the truth
    We (society/humanity) make it us versus them and WE all suffer because of it

  3. Sigh… Yes, it is still far from the truth. And I am so tired of the suffering. I guess this week it all seemed to build up for me… The worst was when people started to question Robin Williams. I mean, if you can twist things so much to make that about religion or lack of faith or morals? I think I need to go on YouTube and watch kitten videos or something…

  4. Damn, you’re good.

    ‘Them’ (for some) has a great big profit sign attached. And the rest of us still not prepared or unable to find a way to combat that without further bloodshed or violence incurred.

    1. Thank you sweet Lizzi… I wish I knew a way to combat it. Other than voting, which is not a satisfying thing with the choices of late. I think our voice needs to be louder than the voices that want to divide us. We need to be louder than the haters… But again, I don’t know how to do that other than writing on a little blog with a small audience. I write something like this because I’m upset and I need to vent, but a tiny part of me hopes someone much smarter will read it and come up with some brilliant idea that will change things.

  5. So well stated, Gretchen, thank you. I had to take a hiatus after my last outburst, because I was so upset by exactly this sort of thing. I felt my anger was fueling the “them” mindset in the cosmos, and I had to calm down. I retreated into some metaphysical philosophies, which have helped me personally, but I am less confident that the world as a whole will embrace the notion of peace and oneness anytime soon. “Them” is a pretty ingrained concept. But I’ve not given up hope, and as long as people like you are out there, I believe it can happen.

    1. So I just had to go over and read your last outburst. I have been slack on reading this summer and feel completely out of touch with all my blogging peeps! And we are definitely feeling the same thing! I’m still trying to calm down, last week it all just came to a head with Robin Williams and everything happening in Ferguson.

      But please don’t let your hiatus be too long, I need to hear more positive, sane voices than all the craziness out there!

  6. I am with you! I am angry too..and it IS us..not them. I’ve been calling people out quite a bit lately. I can’t take anymore. And fuck being polite…

    1. I have an issue with being too polite. Like ridiculously so. I don’t know if it’s a southern thing… But yeah, call them all out! All the assholes! I’m really over it, I think most of us are over it.

  7. I’m not articulate or smart enough to be in the same room with you, but let’s pretend for a second that I am. This post was brilliantly written. I tweeted it to freshly pressed. I hope you get it, because you are such a powerful writer. I lurve you hard, but I respect you even more. xo

    1. You are ridiculous Beth! That is complete silliness! But thank you, so so much. You thinking this should be FP’d is just as awesome as getting FP’d. I lurve you tons too…

  8. They pray to a different god.

    How’s that? If I understand the “they” (and the unsaid “we”) that you refer to, all groups involved (Christian, Muslim, Jewish) pray to the god of Abraham. That’s why they are referred to as the Abrahamic religions. A minor point, I’m sure, but one I hope that reinforces your point– that the peoples have similarities and would be weary of war should that be acknowledged.

    For the most part, those of us in North America peacefully coexist. But, I think that many of these troubles abroad stem so much from our governments’ meddling (along with our allies) for many, many decades in cultures and peoples we did not really fully understand. I mean, the actions following World Wars I and II (Treaty of Versailles, etc.) But such is a deep discussion for another time.

    1. Well, what I meant (about “they pray to a different god”) was that people look at it that way. I went back after reading your comment to put that in italics so hopefully it’s more clear that it is another ignorant thing spouted by people to divide and diminish.

      I think on the surface those of us here in the U.S. live in peace. But when it comes to race or sexual orientation I think that there is a lot to be done before we can claim peaceful coexistence. And ay yay yay, the meddling by the U.S. (and others), we really stirred some stuff up didn’t we? Who knows what would have happened if things had been done differently? Would Germany not have suffered after WWI and Hitler not have risen to power? And if so, would WWII not have happened? And if so… we could go all night with the what ifs! I love those kinds of discussions, the speculations about what could have been or how things “would be different if.” But you’re right, that’s a discussion for another time. Cause I’m tired right now.

      1. Yeah, people do view it that way– I suspected that’s what you meant, so, I appreciate that you edited. Thanks for putting up with my little nitpick.

        Yes, race and sexual orientation are still dividing matters. I think we might be making a wee bit of progress on sexual orientation, although, I am tired of people seeing it in dichotomies like you’re talking about. I’ve been harassed severely just over this matter, actually. Yes, really. When push comes to shove, it’s gay vs. straight, and I’m in between, and so is Cimmorene, so, yeah. Race… well, Kareem Abul Jabbar is pointing out (in a recent Time article) that Ferguson is indeed about racism, BUT, it’s also about socioeconomics, i.e., it’s worse if you’re poor. Although I’m white, well, being poor… well, only my city police do I reasonably trust. Social workers? N-o. I can only imagine it’d be worse if my skin complexion was naturally of another hue.

  9. So so true.Even making the government a “them” is part of the problem. The government should be “us” too. I agree with everything you said, but realized how hard it is, because we still see the government as them, and it is damn hard not to.

    1. Thank you Patti. I’ve had trouble replying to your comment because you’ve really made me think. And I think you’re right. I keep wanting to say I don’t view government as “them,” but every time I write it I keep coming back to who really controls the government. And too often, especially in recent years, it’s the corporations and powerful interests. And too many people profit from the bloodshed. And too many people keep their grip on power by keeping everyone divided. Whew. My mind has gone in way more circles than this reply indicates, but I think now I need a drink! But don’t get me wrong, I love what you said and I love it when people get my mind churning like that!

      1. Glad to get it churning, as your post made mine do. It is perplexing. The ones who keep stirring the pot and keep contention going need to be forced to be us 🙂 I’m having iced coffee, but now considering adding a dollop of whiskey. Thanks for making us all think and I hope you get freshly pressed for this one!

  10. This is a well-written, well-articulated, and impassioned piece which I wholeheartedly agree with. Well done, Gretchen.

  11. Wow, Gretchen. You laid out this argument like beautiful handscraped hard wood floors, perfectly aligned and clean and smelling fresh and crisp and new, so perfect that you almost don’t want to walk on them, that you have to take your shoes off out of respect for the beauty.

    There is no them, just us. Just us.

    I’m afraid, that those of us in the “us” category might be outnumbered.

    1. Wow, I mean, your comment is more beautiful and elegant than anything I take 1000 words to say. Thank you SO much.

      I think the reason I wrote this is exactly what you said. It does feel like the “them”-sayers outnumber “us.” I know there have been times where I’m guilty of it. I think we all slip even if we don’t generally view the world and people as “them.” And it seems like it’s gone into hyper overdrive in recent years. Maybe that’s because some progress is being made in certain areas and some people really don’t like progress.

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