Letter: Where to draw line between ‘us,’ ‘them?’


The one-year anniversary of the alarmingly wrongful death of George Floyd is blaring in the news. The list of other similar cases is growing too. It’s becoming a platform for anyone wanting recognition as a champion for underdogs.

Unquestionably, George Floyd’s death was among many police involved tragedies that stem from the “birds of a feather flocking together” syndrome. Remember the Rodney King incident in California?

So what’s wrong with policing in America? Or is it just policing? Is it deeper and more generic?

Whatever it is, it’s everywhere.

In India it is/was their “caste” system where one’s birth heredity limits occupational opportunity much like racial prejudice has in America.

In eastern Canada, it’s whether you speak English or French. In western Canada it’s whether you wear a hat or turban. In southern Texas, it’s whether you speak English or Mexican slang. Anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line, it is whether you talk English with a drawl … and you better be ready to disappear fast if you use the word “yankee” to describe yourself. I saw a murder in Arkansas over that sort of thing once.

In Rwanda, it was whether you were a Hutu or Tutsi. In Bosnia, it was whether you were Christian or Muslim. In Korea, it’s whether you are north or south of a demilitarized zone. Where I grew up, it was whether you were Catholic, Protestant or whatever. In Germany it was …

Clearly it is something deeper in human DNA.Some can sing “Born Free” while others can’t. Species flock together in order to improve their survival in a competitive world.

It can’t be ignored, the bird flocking syndrome is real. We live in a competitive world where every species lives by devouring another form of life. Biological science calls it the food chain.

We celebrate it in sports. We all want to be exalted winners while losers get forgotten in the dust.

Economically we call it capitalism and are proud of it … depending on how the cookie crumbled.

Where do we draw the line between us and them? Or should we? The honest truth is that we all do.

One thing that seems to be missing from current dialogue is attitude. Crime gets defined by the letter-of-the-laws we make, but isn’t attitude the cause behind every crime? Should attitude be behind every response? It seems to be.

Apparently attitude and trust is more involved than most of us realize. Humans are full of attitudes that develop and get defined by the experiences we have growing up.

It is self protection. It’s normal. It is survival of the fittest and we all want that.

But can and should it be changed? After, all only fools and naive ignoramuses think that every other human being is an honest-to-goodness trusted friend and good guy.

On the other hand, if we treat everyone with suspicion, they’re bound to treat us the same way.

We don’t like that.

Which is the cause and which is the effect? Who knows? Who cares?

Wars get started over things just that simple. But ending wars sure isn’t simple.

Our own nearly-two-centuries-old Civil War still simmers in places. The rebel flag was paraded in our nation’s Capitol just this Jan. 6.

Is this dumb or just normal?

Anyone who can resolve this conundrum may deserve the next World Peace Prize.

Anyone want to try?

Al Williams

Oak Harbor

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