The Myth of the “Other”


As Old as Humanity Itself

There’s a notion in the human mind of the “other.” Maybe it’s inherent, maybe it’s a result of the cultures we have been raised in, but either way, this concept persists in our thinking. Somehow we struggle to find some sense of personal identity without differentiating ourself from others.

Maybe it stems from our history. When two ancient tribes came into contact with one another, there were immediate lines of demarcation. We are such and such tribe and this is our territory as opposed to this other tribe . For some reason, there was a need to separate the two.

Perhaps back in the day this was necessary, but in our modern, globalized world, the concept of the “other” is something that needs to end. We are evolving as a species, striving to put an end to implicit bias, discrimination, racism and forms of division between us. Viewing other people as inherently different than us can be damaging.

Praise Diversity

I’m not saying we should refuse to recognize the nuances of culture and the things that give us commonality with certain people. Diversity of culture and experience is something that should be encouraged and praised. The amazing thing about different cultures is that embracing them makes us more inclusive. The only reason the myth of the “other” exists is because we fear what (or in this case who) we do not know.

Recognizing and embracing the fact that people have different cultures helps us to understand that they aren’t so different from us. It’s amazing how quick we are to judge someone else’s ways just because they’re different from our own. And sometimes one’s defense of their culture and heritage is seen as an attack on another’s. Really, these lines are human constructs. They’re boundaries we have created to feel unique, but they needn’t become lines of division.



Divisive Rhetoric

I don’t have to explain to anyone the amount of division that exists today because of our rhetoric. We demonize immigrants, slander the LGBTQ community, and make instant judgements of character based upon religious affiliation.

This sounds idealistic, but we’re all the same. I mean it. Literally the same. The sooner we let that nugget of truth sink into the marrow of our bones, the sooner we’ll be happier.

I’m by no means perfect. I still make snap judgements on a regular basis. The point is not perfection. The point is progress. Simply being aware of the fact that we hold biases is the first step to helping eliminate those biases.

Some people think that messages like this serve no real purpose, that promoting love on a world scale is nebulous and doesn’t actually change anything. I disagree.

You dispel hate by injecting love. Injecting it into society, into people’s lives on an individual basis. Because fixating on the removal of hate and prejudice only makes us focus on those things more; but focus on introducing love into a system and then we stand a chance.