“I’m OK because you’re not OK.”
That’s what I reckon I’ve been hearing from certain big voices in the news. Or in the less blunt form: “We’re OK because they are not OK.”
It’s being expressed in group terms, us versus them. This collection of “I” individuals over against that lot out there, other than us, beyond the pale. They are different kinds of people. They belong somewhere else, not in our place. They behave badly, against the principles of our who we are. They are a threat to our security and our identity.
Because of the group aspect, it can feel that we can’t be wrong. If, as a group, we’re feeling the same we can’t be accused of being selfish surely. The argument is that we’re being honest. Honest about how lots of people feel. Therefore it must be right and we’re justified in being outspoken and absolute.
I’m thinking of the people who have listened and responded with a yes to Donald Trump and those who say Amen to Brian Tamaki, as well as the speakers themselves.
We don’t use the word “primitive” much nowadays, but this is one place where it fits and it helps us understand in a way that makes for better life. It’s deeply embedded in our human functioning to feel good about ourselves by contrasting us with others. It’s a short-cut to clear identity to see ourselves over and against something we don’t like or don’t approve of. It’s much easier to do that than to take the hard self-reflective road of working out who we are as unique human beings.
That needs soul-searching. That needs the hard honesty of being honest with ourselves, warts and all.
It’s a primitive reaction to find identity by defining who we and our group are and exclude others because they are different and therefore a threat.
What we are learning on the journey of the spirit is to find identity in who we are in ourselves and in relation to others – to other people and the whole world around us. Who I am sits alongside who you are and we’re no threat to each other. If we can get to that place, then there is no threat. There is no need for security, for walls of exclusion.
Some use the words of a text, definitely spirit-inspired in its wholeness and its insights, to decree what is right and wrong for two human beings loving each other. But if this text, the Bible, is God’s word, then we cannot use it to claim human certainty. What’s good with God, only God knows.
I am OK because we are all OK. That’s the journey I’m on. I’ve discovered that my wellness, my security, is enhanced by that of others. I’m not put off by the fact that “others” includes a huge amount of people and things. Focus on what’s in front of you, and keep expanding the view as “we” thinking becomes more and more natural. It is always a work in progress, as long as there are some others, somewhere, who are not OK and something could be done to help.