It’s been done since kings went into battle barefoot, because shoes hadn’t been invented yet. They might not have known that they were doing it, but they were. All religions and political parties are built on it. Every schoolyard thrives on it. And it lives within all of us, whether we know it or want to admit it to ourselves, and especially to others.
Identically, the financial system and the concepts of governments and nations and even tax are all predicated on the application of control over of the human need to belong. Within a herd there is diffusion of responsibility. There is the comfortable mutuality of blind adherence and there are the abundant fruits of ignorance. But the bland taste of a life spent marching with one’s head down is not one iota of the potential value of any community. And yet we trudge.
Now, as then, the common core around which the few funnel the many towards a desired outcome is a simple one. It is the simple concept of a common enemy. Those people over there, with clothing that’s cut into a different shape from ours is, they are at fault. Those people over there, whose imagined opinions on the creation of the universe is, in some small way different from ours, they are to blame. If we destroy them, the others, then we will be safe. Thus, we are right when we war with them, and murder them, and bomb their crèches and schools and hospitals, because they are other, they are the enemy.
The truth is though that they are what make us what we are. „We” exist solely because we have them to point at and hate and belittle and kill. But our true common enemy is not any others. It’s not even the few who control the many by perpetuating the age-old combative mass mindset. Our common enemy is the ancient part of all of us that wants there to be a common enemy. It evolved inside us from tribal days when there was land and water and food to fight over. But now it is a weakness that is used to control us.
It is harder to bear the truth than it is to mull along with the herd. But that does not diminish the truth. The truth is still the truth regardless of what we say or do or think or feel. The truth makes a mildness of anger when faced head on. It gives a greater strength to love, by knowing. The harder life is the richer and better life, by this very loving and knowing alone. But it does come at the price of bearing the truth, in all its honour.
Sadly, we cannot shirk the fact that we are all bound to the almighty common enemy. For all of human history we have been us just because we had those other people over there to define us. But we now know that those people over there are us too. And we are not only them, but, all along, we have been their own people over there. We are all as culpable and guilty and stupid and beautiful and human and fallible and full of awful and glorious potential as everyone else. But first we must confront our common enemy head on. And then we must defeat it.