“You’re for me or you’re against me,” is what she said. I can take you to the place where we were driving when she first said that to me. Yet, I can’t remember what it was that precipitated the comment. I must have been ten or twelve years old and the ‘she’ I’m talking about was my grandmother.
This notion just didn’t make any sense to my young mind at all. My thought was, why can’t I be ‘for you’ on some things and ‘against you’ on others? My mind must have never grown up because I still feel that way. Now, I truly see the power of what she said and the intent of what it does. It really focuses a person on ‘who’ is making the argument rather than the ‘content’ of the argument.
War, of course, best typifies this ‘for or against’ concept and a place where it does make sense. In that situation there is no time to discuss the problem, you just do what you are told. You follow the leaders’ orders without question. And you are on one side or the other, there is no middle ground.
I suspect you have noticed how our current political environment has come to embrace this way of thinking.
In fact, voting is also a place where this mentality is somewhat necessitated. We must make a choice although often our political choices seem to be as Shakespeare said, “There is little choice in a barrel of rotten apples.”
I have noticed there are two kinds of people. There are the ‘black and white’ thinkers where everything is boiled down to either right or wrong - there is no middle ground. (My grandmother, for example.) Then there are the gray thinkers where the ‘I Ching’ notion of nothing is ALL wrong and nothing is ALL right and everything else must lie somewhere in between in a continuum of shades of gray. (The way I think.)
The ‘right or wrong’, black or white, thought process can be very useful for guiding, if not totally manipulating, behaviors. Religions are particularly good at using, even exploiting, this concept. (If not your religion, consider others.) Also, you get pretty clear ‘do and don’t’ behaviors from black and white thought which tend to become rules in schools and laws in society. More importantly it lets people know who they are, which side they are on and where they stand. It’s right or wrong after all. I’m a republican, I’m a democrat, I’m a socialist, I’m a Catholic, I’m a Baptist. I’m a vegan. I’m a ______ (you fill in the blank).
It’s good to know who you are.
Here is a little anecdotal story that might show you why I have trouble with this black and white way of thinking, though:
My grandnephew, Cody, must have been about twelve at the time. Our hunting crew had been out pursuing elk that morning hiking up and down some serious terrain. We all met back at the truck about snack time and started munching’ on and sharing our various trail mix, granola bars, fruit and the like. I pulled out this bag of carob covered raisins I had in my pack. Cody was putting these things down like M&M’s when several minutes later somebody else said, “Hey, these things are pretty good, what are they?” Of course, I answered, ”carob covered raisins” at which time Cody immediately stopped chewing and spit them out proclaiming “I HATE RAISINS!”.
This was a huge lesson in human nature for me. After all, if you are a raisin hater, then you can’t eat them, no matter how good they taste! Be careful what you choose to hate. It will define you.
Have you ever heard anybody say, “I hate camping!”? When people say that they tend to really mean it. A while back I did a “I Hate Camping” webpage on my Cartentcamping.com website. Have a look at it and let me know if there are other reasons you have heard.
Maybe the biggest favor we could do the universe right now would be to help cut down on this ‘Hate’ problem we have permeating our society. Let’s all kidnap someone we know, who ‘thinks’ they hate camping, and take them with us on a weekend trip. Teach them there is more than one way to do things. If for no other reason, they can figure out how wrong and iron clad mind set can be.
My Grandmother exemplified the rugged individualism we tend to have out here in the west. She taught me a lot and she was right about a lot but not everything. I fear our society has morphed her saying from “You’re for me or you’re against me.” to “You are for me, or I am against you.”
Cut down on the hate. Go Camping! (And take somebody who needs it with you.)