Systems of exclusion—this is what we learned in primary school. Find a niche, fit yourself in, make fun of the kid who stands out (even when you were one of them). This is survival mechanics, biological manifestation, pattern recognition. Learned behavior. Although there was always that part of you that understood that the outcasts, the sore-thumbs, were in fact much closer to you than you cared to admit. That you were in fact dependent on them to give yourself purpose and meaning.
You grow older, and as your awareness of the wider world extends, so too does your need for readily definable enemies. Again, there are given culturally or sociologically established minorities: the homeless, perhaps, if you need something closer to home; or homosexuals; or maybe simply the dark-skinned turbaned men from gutteral lands on the evening news waving guns. “Here, it’s ok,” your peers and consumer media tells you, “you can hate these people. They are different.” And thus, you can pretend to know who you are. You are not them—you are God fearing, freedom loving, money making, success driven. You are clean, you are whole, you are pure.
Maybe you come to realize—or maybe you do not, given your level of intelligence and ability to imagine—that at some level, you are only hating yourself. That you are not representative of some cultural, sociological elite. That such an elite does not exist. That this so-called “elite” in fact consists of a conglomeration of power hungry, unscrupulous warlords, gang leaders, fighting like rats for their little piece of turf. And everyone in between either living their lives heedless, caught in the crossfire, or simply pawns in the play by play, puppets on strings. And this is the part of yourself, this subservient mass of complacent fodder and indignant impotence, that you have been pushing away as an “other” and hating. This is the part of yourself that you don’t want to see. The part of yourself that sits at street corners and begs for money, the part of yourself that turns a trick in the spaces between lamplight on side streets downtown, the part of yourself that sleeps in doorways, the part of yourself that picks pounds of fruit during harvest seasons for a few cents, the part of yourself that crosses the border in the desert without food or water, the part of yourself that talks to yourself in tongues, the part of yourself that shakes uncontrollably, the part of yourself riven, stricken, striped with a subharmonic pulse of the moon that can’t be named, can’t be helped, can’t be driven into the light of the day.
Children are reflective of this rift. They are growing increasingly distant from what is understood, while ever increasingly congealed as an easily groomed consumer group. They are labeled with acronyms, thrown into detention centers, fed with pharmeceuticals, whipped with crafty standardized fill-in-the-bubble questions. Toxins, radio waves, video games, free porn, Doritos, Pepsi, Britney Spears shaved sex symbol trailer trash meltdown, ADD, ritalin, SATs, cellphone ringtones, Clear Channel. You know the rest. It’s overloading everyone. The mercury is raiding the fish. The carbon is filling the air. The phosphates are flooding the deltas.
The world collectively awaits its adulthood. We all need to grow up. The biggest threat to our existence, the greatest enemy to be overcome, is ourselves. Ourselves. Not some Korean, Arabian, Venezuelan enemy. Not some teenaged runt with a trenchcoat and a gun. Not some poor, destitute, homeless, drug addled nameless on the street. Not them. Not other. Just us. Just you and me and our kids and our future. Time to include, accept, embrace. Time to grow up.