Thursday, November 12, 2009

We, the Good People

All good people agree
And all good people say
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They

-- Rudyard Kipling

So true mate! Living as a foreigner has made me acutely aware of being 'They' and not 'We'. But we're all subject to this faulty division between 'Us' and 'Them'. I have met a Russian during my gymnastics work-outs (he's trained as a physicist, but working for a bank calculating risk assessments) and we got to talking about the old soviet union, east germany, etc, and I complained about how hopeless communism seemed, how corrupt it all ended up, and how capitalism seems to be a much better system, no? But he defended, partially, communism and pointed out how corruption in america is channeled through semi-legal systems like Lobbying. I don't think he was completely defending the communist system, but he rightly pointed out some inconsistencies in my thinking, and made me realize that my thinking about these matters is certainly influenced by the culture I live in. America promotes a certain ideology about capitalism and it's virtues, and even though I try to be objective I am influenced by this point of view, if for no other reason than I don't hear the other side's arguments.

It's the 'Us' and 'They' problem, and you can't be vigilant enough in questioning your own judgements. Cheers to Rudyard Kipling for summing it all up in such a simple and tidy way.

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