Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

“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.

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12 thoughts on ““Who’s “we”?”: The Danger of Unity

  1. theotheri on said:

    My interpretation of Rolf is that he gave up his original identity and replaced it with the Nazi logo with a new set of “us” and “them”. But that is not the “us” and “them,” I think you were originally talking about. The goal is not to eliminate one’s personal identity or to exchange it for another identity, but to expand our understanding of ourselves, of our identity — to realize that we are all members of humanity. Yes, we are different, and we do not want to give up those differences. We need them. The goal, though, is to learn to realize that “us” doesn’t just include people who are like we are.

    And it doesn’t eliminate potential disagreements either. We don’t have to agree with everybody who belongs to “us.”

    Don’t you agree?

    • Yes I think so. I think watching The Sound of Music put me off my train of thought a little, but hey – it keeps being on TV.
      Agreement is an important part of “us”ness, I think. Disagreement is divisive. Scotland was Scotland but now we are No voters and Yes voters, arguably, which is sad.
      I have a half-thought of post about levels of “us”-ness coming.

      • theotheri on said:

        Does disagreement have to be divisive? I have learned some of the most important things in my life by listening to those who disagree with me. And how can one possibly participate in a fulfilling marriage if one can’t tolerate disagreements? Unless one-half agrees always to submit to the other, which in some relationships is the way it works.

        How far can we stretch our “We” without compromising our individual identity? As far, I think, as the entire universe. We are each both individuals and parts of a greater whole. But we can’t delight in that if we can’t learn to celebrate (or at least tolerate) our differences.

    • I can’t stretch my “we” that far just yet! I am taking your ideas here and adding them to the mix in my brain. More to follow. (I hope – I’me back to “work” this week and this lovely blogging window may start to glaze over…)

  2. I think that the we becomes dangerous when it doesn’t include all differences and thus breeds a “them”. We has to be inclusive or it becomes exclusive. I think that it isn’t we or them, it is more about the importance of inclusivity, fairness, open-mindness and generosity, then you can have a healthy we. 🙂

  3. We have not we “has” silly me. lol

  4. Great insight. We can only be “we” if we agree.

    • I think I’ll need to work further on this one. I think it depends where one’s own identity ends. When I say Us, I might mean my nuclear family, or my extended family, or bloggers, or christians, or english speakers or glaswegians or “we-in-the-west”. I wonder how wide my Us can be, without me compromising the Me.

      • Yeah, you could be referring to all of us ones who are in disagreement, right?
        But can two walk together unless they agree?

      • I could always get an unequal yoke out and start ploughing circles. I think that there’s an angle to be explored about relationships and agreement. I hope I get around to following all these thoughts through!

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