Us vs. Them

“There is no ‘them.’ There never was. There is only us.” I wrote this brief meditation on the rise of protective nationalism two years ago. It’s still happening, and I’m still against it. You?

Mitch Teemley


I am profoundly disturbed by the current rise of nationalism in Europe, in the Americas, in the Middle East, in nearly every nation on earth. Powered by the false logic of isolationism and protectionism, each successive wave of nationalism crashes down with increasing vehemence on anyone who can be blamed. A current meme urges Americans to support “Veterans Instead of Migrants.” This is a false dichotomy—there is no legislation in the U.S. requiring citizens to choose between these two factions. Nevertheless, leaders who argue against such “patriotism” are sucked under. And in their place, self-serving extremists rise on the tide of nationalism, spewing the seductive froth of Us vs. Them.

The last time the flood rose to this level (the 1930s), fed by storms of recession, it adolf-hitler_00315699erupted in a worldwide tsunami. Opportunistic ideologues (Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Stalin) “rescued” their nations, empowered by nationalistic fervor, and murdered millions before their…

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About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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25 Responses to Us vs. Them

  1. “Nation will rise against nation and brother agsinst brother.” We dont need signs in the heavens. We have enough sign here on Earth that the age is about to change.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Garfield Hug says:

    I believe in “us” too😊

    Liked by 3 people

  3. claire says:

    Whenever I feel “them and us” whether in my personal life or on a grander scale I know I am out of God’s spirit. Sadly It comes too easily. With man it is impossible (to love and care for all) but with God all things are possible to them that believe.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. So true. I love (and have used) the Pogo cartoon that says “I have met the enemy and he is us!”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. M.B. Henry says:

    Very fitting post in today’s political climate. And I totally agree! We accomplish so many amazing things when we all work together

    Liked by 2 people

  6. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for an excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Mitch. My original comment was lengthy and I scrubbed it. When we refer to them we discount we are they to them. You are right we are all US, and I add an “A” for good measure. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman says:

    Sadly, we seem to be encouraged to see everything as “us” verses “them” these days. And no good can come of it. You are right; there is only “us!” As in all of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. smzang says:

    with you 100 percent on this issue…

    (limited to 15 minutes a day screen time, but will gradually get caught up)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. TEP336 says:

    I have only this to say, and I’m saying this as a veteran. A government’s first responsibility is to its people. That’s the bottom line. Our government is specifically chosen represent the interests of the American people, both domestically and internationally. In that regard, their focus must always be Americans first. That’s their job. Now, does that mean they have to ignore other considerations? No, but it does mean that everything they say or do must place us first.


  11. TEP336 says:

    Yes, and no. Hitler’s example is an extreme example of nationalism gone horribly wrong. Nationalism isn’t meant to be a middle finger to the rest of the world, it’s meant to be a sign of pride in one’s place of origin. The way I describe patriotism is a love for one’s country, warts and all.

    As a man of Latin and Native roots, I’m painfully aware of U.S. history. In spite of that, I still love my country, and firmly believe that the U.S. is the greatest nation on the planet. Why? I have seen what the rest of the world looks like, and we are uniquely blessed.

    There is nothing wrong with patriotism. I’ve met patriots from other countries, and I deeply respect and appreciate them. I’ve met British patriots, Iraqi patriots, etc. Decent people, all of them. Sadly, I think nationalism and patriotism have been horribly mischaracterized.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I think we have similar views about true patriotism. My issue is with the kind of “patriotism” that manufactures straw figures (“Thems”) in order to artificially strengthen itself. Nationalism is similar. Understandings of the term vary, but the most common definition (this one’s from the Oxford Dictionary) is, “Identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.” It’s the second part, the “exclusion or detriment” of others part, that concerns me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • TEP336 says:

        I mean, when you focus on your own nation’s interests, even to the slightest degree, it is to someone’s detriment. That’s the reality of diplomacy, and the price of doing business. Take the current situation with China. As a carpenter who works with metal framing, the sudden shortage of Chinese steel put me out of work, but I’m not upset by it. Why? First, carpentry is my second career, and I have medical training and experience to fall back on. In fact, I recently accepted a job in a medical clinic. Now, I’m making $5/hr less than I had been, but it’s better than nothing. My bills will still be paid, and my family is still being taken care of. Second, because that lack of Chinese steel has forced companies in the construction industry to look to domestic steel providers, which in turn has forced those steel providers to hire more people; to the benefit of the local workers and local economy. I mean, I’m glad to take a financial hit if it means my union brothers and sisters get to benefit, too.

        To make things a bit more interesting, President Trump started that trade war because U.S./Chinese trade has been lopsided in their favor for decades. In other words, his intent was to bring about exactly what’s happened. He created more American jobs, thereby benefiting the American economy, but to the detriment of the Chinese economy. Not that they’re suffering because of it. They have no shortage of foreign investors willing to put up with their absolutely horrendous trade laws.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. sothisisbliss says:

    A MILLION times, yes to this!!! Also, I wish we better utilized the parable of the Good Samaritan as communtities. When within our means, we strive to lift and love others, we are serving our Lord. And in that, we can only find strength and peace and joy. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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