Saturday, November 5, 2011

There Is No Them

Photo Credit: David Benbennick

For a long time I have felt a strong allegiance to those who are the less emphasized dead in the press. These are the people who have made the mistake of not being born American. They have names that are hard to pronounce. They may not be easily identified after soldiers trained to fly remote drones via video games have hit their abstracted targets.

And yet these people, whoever they are, have been just as real as anyone you or I know. They are the anonymous dead; the people that occupy the "them" category in our us vs. them logic. That way of thinking is dangerous, and inhumane. It presupposes that there is more about us as people that divides us than unites us. But when you go elsewhere in the world you find people trying to do the same things--find meaningful work, get ahead, love their children, learn a few things, expose themselves to positive experiences.

It's the sort of commonplace that makes war seem utterly absurd.

As such, I would like to build a rather large version of a Mobius strip. For those of you who don't remember this elegant mathematical puzzle, the Mobius strip is a piece of paper, which when turned 180 degrees and reconnected (with tape or glue or whatever) creates a lovely anomaly. There is no inside or outside to the strip. You follow one side and soon find you are on the other, or rather, that there is no inside nor outside to the configuration. It's a beautiful thing to me.

I would like to make an enormous Mobius strip out of steel or concrete and place it in front of the Pentagon, or maybe the Kennedy School of government. On one "side" it would say "Us" and on the non-other side, "Them."

I also want to make a bumper sticker that reads, "There is no them."

Anybody with me? Hey, if you're not with me, that's okay. . .we're still on the same side. . .