The Creation of the “Other” (and thoughts on war and violence)

Hate, conflict, hostility and war… where does it all come from? I can’t help but read the headlines in all the news about North Korea and their nuclear threats–y’know, war propoganda and rhetoric. So where does all of this come from in the first place?


It comes from the creation of “the Other.”

When we’re born into the world, we’re force to learn who “I” am in order to survive. I must provide for “my” survival, “my” food, and horde “my” things.

As we learn about “me”, we must inevitably separate ourselves from “others.” Me and you–we are not the same. Throughout our lives as we develop our egos and grow our sense of self. As “me” becomes stronger, so does our sense of “the Other.”

The more we see ourselvse as different from others, the less we’re likely to sympathise or feel compassion for others, and the easier it is to have hate and conflict.

So what about when we spread this sense of “me”on a societal level? We create an “us” and “them” situation. And that’s exactly what takes place as the media and governments propogate nationalism and prepare for war. We create the strongest sense of “Other” as possible, trying to make “the Other” like animals–to dehumanize them as much as possible–to make them seem so much different from us that we can’t possibly coexist.

We see it all the time:
Islam versus the America



China versus Japan


North Korea versus World

North Korea Teaching Hate

What do we see in each of these cases? We often see strong rhetoric of how “different” things are in each other’s cultures. We’re told that they’re too “barbaric,” “backward,” “uncivilized,” “totalitarian,” “ruthless,” “cruel,” “unreasonable,” and so on. These tensions are all created by building up a sense of “us” and “them.”

But are we all that different?
Throughout my adult life I’ve done a lot of traveling, and worked or volunteered with many immigrants. And what do I see everywhere? I see that we’re mostly all the same.

Everybody has the same fears, hopes, and dreams. We all want happiness, and to be understood by others. All people and cultures can coexist peacefully, but it’s when we build up a sense of “us” being different from “them” that conflicts and problems escalate out of control.

What about North Korea?
They’re crazy right? Nuclear tests, militarism, totalitarianism and the like, right? They’ve gotta be crazy. “They” are different than “us,” right?

Here’s a country who has been “othered” out of the world. We’ve imposed sanctions and the like on them to starve them out. But what happens when you starve someone, or corner an animal? They’ll fight back. The country is desperate and the leader is trying to prove himself as strong. It’s a simple equation.

And while the whole world has been making them feel so crazy and abnormal, so “other,” they’ve been emphasizing their nationalism and sense of self. Of course these kinds of tendencies and rhetoric lead to war and conflict.

And it’s the same for all the conflicts we create: Iran, Islam, China, Isreal and Palestine, and so on. The more we think of each other as different, the more conlict and violence we’ll have.

So let’s make a change:
The next time you read in the news something bad, think critically about it. Is this piece of news creating a sense of fear of “the other” or strengthening our sense of “other” about someone or some particular culture?

What we need to do is offer our compassion and understanding to all. We all want happiness and to belong. We all want to be part of the “us,” not the “them.” So why not let them join “us?”

If we’re all together, we feel more compassion and have more understanding instead of competing with each other. Let’s try to make everyone a part of our sense of self. Let’s offer love, compasison, and understanding to all.

Trust me, not only is it good for them, it’s good for you too. You won’t live in so much fear, and you won’t feel so much animosity or anger. Give it a try. Try to see where others are coming from. Spread the word.

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2 Responses to The Creation of the “Other” (and thoughts on war and violence)

  1. Pingback: The Culture War | THE SCARECROW

  2. Chun says:

    Your words is felt like a heart to heart talk. When it comes to “What about North Korea” part, I thought you were going to pull out some historical examples, how these countries ending up to demonstrate NK issue. In my opinion, to reason good thoughts (you have the psychology skill) with more historical facts flesh can connect your thoughts of blood.

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