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Philisophical Question

  1. Sep 13, 2010 #1
    Why do humans categorically analyze situations with other humans with the mentality of “us against them?”

    I ask this question because to me much of humanities strife and suffering has been at the hands of other humans. For example the recent case of the Floridian ministers plans to “commemorate” the September 11th attacks by extremist members of Islam by burning the Islamic holy book, had they been carried out would have done nothing but further polarize relations between Christianity and Islam. I would go so far as to argue that neither the 9/11 attacks nor the planned book burning could be considered “in the spirit” of either religion.

    I am an idealist. I believe that humankind has the potential to do anything our minds can imagine, including long distance space travel and colonization of different worlds. I want humanity to try to achieve these goals; however, I believe that ideas and concepts like nationalism, racism and sexism are holding back our great potential. It is more than even these ideas though. Concepts like greed and politics are hindering human progress as well. These negative attitudes toward fellow humans, attitudes that separate and point out our differences only hold humankind back from working together and achieving the vast potential that I fervently believe is there just out of our reach.

    All of these attitudes place people in situations, which they analyze as us vs. them. This creates a schism between certain groups of people, which creates strife and thus suffering.

    I am of the opinion that my questions and idealizations of humankind are essentially pointless unless they reach a wider audience and help to make them think rationally about these concepts to which they hold. I am hoping that by placing my arguments up for discussion on these forums I can refine them further and thus be better prepared to fight the battle that I wish to fight.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2010 #2
    Things were and always will be about power and how to apply it most successfully. Why? Because that's in the core of evolution - everyone own's reality is different thus when a problem is created, power must be applied for it to be solved. And the people who have the most power use different tools to keep it that way - divide and conquer. People will never stop hate each other until there is insufficiency of any kind, and those who rule the rest will always create it one way or another. No one from us for example knows the actual progress in medicine right now and certainly there is a lot more than the exposed.
  4. Sep 13, 2010 #3


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    We support look out for those we know who have similar interests and goals as us and we protect ourselves from strangers who may have differing interests and may try to take our livelihood.

    As long as we see other nations as strangers, rather than people we know with common interests, we will continue to trust "us" and distrust "them".

    The key to peace is in finding common interests and goals.
  5. Sep 13, 2010 #4
    What I am trying to get at is that all nations have one very powerful trait in common: homo sapien. We are all human. What difference does it make if one person hails from longitude 51 deg 34' 11" latitude 35 deg 25' 13" or if another person comes from Pahrump, Nevada? What difference does it make if one person has a higher concentration of melanin in their skin than another?

    DaveC426913: I think your reply goes along with my original question. You speak of we and others when I am trying to point out that there should be no such distinctions as it pertains to humankind.

    I think I agree with one point that Ferris_bg made: People do have their own realities. Some people put up mental blocks just to deal with things that have happened in their lives. Others lead relatively happy existences without much strife. These types of things and the concepts I spoke of as well as a plethora of other reasons and emotions alter how we view reality. I understand this. What I cannot understand and what I am trying to truly develop my thoughts and arguments against is why can't we, as a species, work together for the betterment of humankind?

    I understand that one major argument against this would be that too many people have too many differences of opinion as to how such advancement should come about (cost, methods, ethical concerns, etc.) as well as what such advancement should consist of as it pertains to all of humankind. Disagreements are a part of what makes us human. I do not see, however, why compromises cannot be made. I do not see why people cannot be treated as equals.
  6. Sep 13, 2010 #5
    This attitude of 'us' and 'them' is not just on country level, it's also well present within all the nations themselves, and on whatever level it appears it's just a reflection of 'me' and 'you' attitude.

    First we, as a humans, have to find peace, tolerance and acceptance for ourselves as individuals, then this will reflect in all other levels.

    The main problem, as I see it, is that certain individuals just won't let it go, since their gain steams from such egoistical attitude.

    Still none to be blamed, less so to be judged about, human mind, in average, even if having unimaginable potential, is pretty much still quite childish - putting own individual interests and goals way ahead of others. Sure, own life shall always be most precious, but when our gain is primarily on loss of others then we get such society as we have it.

    I'd say it's changing to the better, but slowly, again, progress in all fields (from social to economical) is simply a reflection of average level of evolved human consciousness.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  7. Sep 14, 2010 #6
    Boy@n: I understand and agree with your points. I think you are right. I think that human collective evolutionary awareness must be developed to a more advanced level in order to alleviate suffering at the hands of other humans. Humanity as a species must become more enlightened.

    However, I also think that the advancement of human awareness is intrinsically tied to our cultural advancement. We cannot surpass, metaphysically, what we do not either understand or recognize consciously. (I am not sure if this statement really makes complete sense, if it does not please let me know.) For example, we were not able to climb out of the cultural and intellectual abyss of the Dark Ages if enough people had not, collectively, become aware of how detrimental to advancement religious control had been. Another example might be that we as a race cannot obtain a peaceful coexistence with each other until most if not all people in power see the ugliness, the destruction, the inhumanity that comes with waging war.

    As an extension of this thought, I believe that human culture, both economic and sociopolitical, must change for the opportunity for advancement to take place at a pace faster than it is currently flowing. I believe more people must be more willing to accept such changes before we can advance culturally and I also believe all other nations, be they further advanced or more primitive culturally, must take the same types of risk that such change demands.

    I think that, and this is directly aimed toward American culture, we as a people must move toward a more socialist style economy, corruption must be eradicated with all prejudice and power must be much more equally divided and distributed in a way less focused by criteria based on fiscal and economic status and more focused on ability, vision and willingness to lead.

    This I believe because I think that Capitalism, while yes it does provide for opportunity, creates an economical atmosphere of cutthroat competition. If you are not innovative enough to attempt a new market or a new spin on an old market your company is likely to either die or be bought out by larger corporations and multinational conglomerates. Even if you have such innovation behind your company, if you do not have the proper fiscal backing such an endeavor requires, your company may still fade away into nothing but memories.

    Capitalist economies create a system of oppression heavily discussed by Marx in his Manifesto of the Communist Party. This, in effect, creates a class struggle between Marx’s Bourgeois and Proletariats. I do believe that his model has broader generalizations than are useful with which to apply to current economic and societal trends, however, his writings do have a point. Equality needs to be a major point in any kind of change towards human advancement. This I believe is one of the core problems that face humanity today.
  8. Sep 14, 2010 #7
    People don't always view the world as "us verses them", that is what is called "ethnocentric" thinking.

    The country of Bhutan, for example, uses a "gross national happiness" scale to determine policies. There are also primitive tribes which don't have words for things like greed. It's not that they can't understand the concept, just that they don't have any real use for the concept and it is even anathema.

    Exactly why some cultures are more competitive and downright antagonistic than others is speculative and falls under the dubious catagory of "Social Darwinism". However, in general it is believed that geography and available resources are often determining factors. Thus you have groups like the !Kung of South Africa who historically had one serious theft, rape, or murder every 400 years in no small part due to their isolation as small groups living in the desert.
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