“Who’s “we”?”: The Danger of Unity
Yesterday I was looking at ways that “we” could be inclusive, in order to reduce the necessity for people to feel that they are “them”. By having everyone on one side of a line of acceptance, then there is a theoretical possibility of peace.
Then today I was watching “The Sound Of Music” and was struck by this little conversation between Liesel and her former love-interest, Rolf. Rolf, a little grumpy and brusque, gives Liesel a telegram for her father:
ROLF: Give this to your father as soon as he’s home.
LIESEL: He’s on his honeymoon.
ROLF: I know.
LIESEL: You do?
ROLF: We make it our business to know all.
LIESEL: Who’s “we”?
ROLF: See that he gets it.
The movie reminds us of Hitler’s strategy with the Anschluss. Instead of there being (was it) Germany and Austro-Hungary (? my historical knowledge has walked out on me), Hitler and the Nazis tried to convince the Austrians that they were German “really” – as they spoke German and shared much culturally with the Germans. Hitler tried to convince the Austrians that they were part of the Nazi “we”. And as such, the border separating the countries was meaningless and the Anschluss took place. They became united – from a “them” and an “us” to a “we”.
Rolf is characterized as having lost his own personal identity and relationships and he identifies with the Third Reich/Nazism.
Liesel asks the question “Who’s ‘we’?” There is a unity being promoted/assumed of which she is unaware.
Captain Von Trapp, in the movie, wants to stay being a “them” as far as the Nazis are concerned. He is willing to give up everything to avoid working for the majority, the insidious aggressor who assumed his cooperation.
So, what is my point?
Maybe convincing people that they are part of a greater “we” is not the life giving freedom “we” might imagine.