We need to make the word “them” extinct. It is a misnomer. “Them” quite simply does not exist. As a write this, a situation is hopefully drawing to an end in the city of Dallas, Texas. Dallas is the third largest city in the largest state within the continental United States of America, home to almost a million and a half people. Known for its large attitude and vast expanse of practically everything, Dallas personifies the state, the attitude, and the potential of the land and its people.
Immortalized in song as “Big ‘D – little a – double l – a – s”, Dallas is a typical city with both opportunity and areas of poverty. Its maze of concrete paths known as interstates and highways leads to tree-lined streets with sprawling mansions and brick low income housing amid towering monuments to industry. It sprang up from farmland and cattle drives to become One of the things Dallas has always been known for was the spirit of “All for one and that means Texas is number one!”
Sadly this morning it has become the scene of the worst targeted attack against law enforcement in the history of Texas and the USA. A sniper shot ten police officers and wounded one female civilian as she tried to protect her son during what had been a peaceful protest against violence. At the time of this writing, five officers have died. Five who were walking with their neighbors and doing their job protecting their neighbors as they peacefully marched for the fact that all lives matter, a march held in honor of those killed by law enforcement. Ironic?
The real irony is the fact that in the midst of a memorial walk against violence, someone thought violence was the answer. It is never a successful answer. Violence solves nothing. This is not a rant and I have not strayed from the topic of this series to honor and encourage making the ordinary extraordinary. Realizing that violence is neither an affirmative nor constructive answer is perhaps the most extraordinary thing you will realize today.
The World Health Organization defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.” There is nothing constructive and certainly no answer found in the words injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
Violence occurs when someone believes in the concept of “Them versus Us”. That concept exists only in some depraved fairytale land. It does not exist in the real world. We are one in this thing called life. Life is a group effort, a team sport, and right now, the sportsmanship of life has been lost. The American Heritage Dictionary, edition published in 2011, defines sportsmanship as “conduct and attitude of participants in sports, especially when considered commendable as in fair play, courtesy, and grace in losing.” Please read that last part – fair plays; courtesy, and grace in losing.
We need to stand up for things that are right and certainly the unexplained death of someone complying with an officer’s instructions needs to be investigated. However, randomly targeting innocent people is not fair play and it accomplishes nothing except the expenditure of ammunition. We also need to proceed with intention and forethought in a manner designed to accomplish something positive.
Every group on this planet has been a target at some point in history. There is no “them” – we are them. “Them” is the objective form of “they” which signifies a group of… us. Them is the collective “we” and means more than one of “you and I”. This singling out of people and calling them by name or being fearful of them is the same as looking in your mirror and being afraid of yourself.
Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno is a Latin phrase that translates as “One for all, all for one”. While many believe it originated in Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”, it actually goes back two hundred years earlier. Considered the unofficial motto of the country of Switzerland, this phrase dates back to 1618. Two hundred years earlier there had been killings due to clashes between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The action led to the death of the king of Bohemia and ultimately, the Hussite Wars. Compromises were made and princes were allowed to determine the religion of their subjects.
Power is a thirsty mistress, however, and movement was made to gain more power over the ensuing years. A struggle began between King Rudolf II of Bohemia and his brother Matthias. Rudolf increased the rights of the Protestants but was deemed unfit to rule and the crown passed to his brother. Matthias, however, was unmarried and had no children so he made a cousin named Ferdinand king. Ferdinand was Roman Catholic and ordered no further building of Protestant churches could continue. This resulted in a meeting in 1618 between leaders of the Bohemian Roman Catholic and Protestant communities. During the meeting, the Protestants issues a statement: “As they also absolutely intended to proceed with the execution against us, we came to a unanimous agreement among ourselves that, regardless of any loss of life and limb, honour and property, we would stand firm, with all for one and one for all… nor would we be subservient, but rather we would loyally help and protect each other to the utmost, against all difficulties”.
We need to make the concept of “them” extinct. We need to reaffirm that which was proposed in 1618 to “loyally help and protect each other to the utmost, against all difficulties.” What is a “them”? It is you… and me… and your neighbor and my neighbor and the guy on the corner who doesn’t look anything like you or me and the lady across town who wears different clothing. We are a large diverse group, much like roses or grasses or trees. There are many different sets and subsets of mankind but we are all parts of the whole – one for all and all for one. Make the concept of “them” extinct” and start living the concept of “we” or “us”. It begins with each of us seeing each other as a part of ourselves.