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We and they

By Mike Ruffin We ain’t going anywhere. Neither are they. ’Who is ‘˜we’ and ‘˜they’ in those statements?’ you might be asking. Well, ‘we’ is whoever we are and ‘they’ is whoever they are. ‘We’ is those who are like we are and ‘they’ is those who are different than we are. ‘We’ refers to our kind and ‘they’ to their kind. I would tell you to fill in the blanks in the sentence ‘We are ___________ and they are __________ ,’ but your attitudes, thoughts, opinions, words and actions indicate that you already have. And how you fill in the blanks depends on the answers to lots of questions, like: (1) Who’s your mama and daddy? (2) Where do you hail from? (3) Where’ve you been? (4) What’d you learn in school and in what schools did you learn it? (5) Do you only know and talk to your kind or do you know and talk to other kinds? (6) Where do you get your news? (7) How much do you read and what do you read? (8) How have you experienced life? (9) How aware are you that other people haven’t had the same life experiences as you? (10) How willing are you to expand your knowledge and worldview while simultaneously acknowledging that no matter how much you know, it’s a very small fraction of all there is to know? People who would answer those questions differently than you do would fill in the blanks differently than you would. And there are lots more people who are different than you than those who are like you. Like I said, we aren’t going anywhere and neither are they. Some of us and some of them think that’s not the case, but they’re wrong. Some of us think we can eradicate them and some of them think they can eradicate us, but we and they are wrong, because there’s no way to do that without destroying us all. Some of us think we can carve out an enclave made up of people like we are and some of them think they can carve out an enclave made up of people like they are, but we and they are wrong, because there’s no way to do that without destroying ourselves or themselves. Some of us and some of them think the world would be a better place if everyone was like we or they are, but we and they are wrong, because, people being people, it wouldn’t stay that way for long – and life would be incredibly boring if it did. The great theologian Sly Stone summed up what I’m trying to say way back in 1969 when he sang, ‘We got to live together.’ That’s not easy. In fact, it may be much more difficult than trying to stay apart or to beat each other into submission. It’ll take people of good will from all places and all persuasions committing themselves to peace and progress with the same fervor that radicals do to conflict and regress. It’ll require the vast majority of us coming to think in terms of ‘all’ rather than ‘us’ and ‘˜them.’ And I mean ‘all,’ not ‘all us’ and ‘all y’all.’ Mike Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher and teacher who grew up in Barnesville and lives in Yatesville. He invites you to join him in trying to become a decent human being.

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