Saturday, March 15, 2008

The 'Other'

Did you ever notice that we humans tend to segregate ourselves from people that are different than us? Like for instance people from the United States tend to always portray Canadians as people that always end their sentences with 'eh,' only live in cold climates, are knieve, poor, and (sometimes.. although only in extreme cases) reside in igloos!

This separation that humans impose within their own species is very peculiar. We tend to associate with what is similar to ourselves, and that is how we define ourselves. What makes you American, for instance? The answer is usually, "my patriotism, my nationalistic spirit for my country, my love for freedom, etc. etc." BUT, in reality that is not what defines what an American is, because someone from Turkey could feel the same way about their country. The answer is, an American is defined by what is not American. More precisely, we tend to define ourselves by what we deem to be very unlike ourselves. An American is not a Canadian, is not an African, is not a Colombian, is not British, is not Norwegian, and so forth.

Human society has separated itself into groups of 'the Other.' We are more adept at spotting our differences than seeing our similarities. For instance, a man by the name of Edward Said wrote a book called Orientalism. This book focussed on, what he saw, as a Westernized perspective dominating scholarly work in fields such as anthropology, history, etc. He proposed that since most of the scholarly work on places other than the Western World (Europe, and North America) was quite small, that there was a bias. People only saw the 'Orient' or Eastern World as the 'Other.' More specifically, they posited that the Western world was greater and more influential than the Eastern World (Africa, Asia, South America, etc.). This created a divide between the two Worlds, and so Western scholarlship tended to view Oriental (as Said uses) societies as inferior and primative, as compared to Western civilizations.

This separation of humanity into two camps is still rather absurb, once you think about it. Also, with the idea that the Western World is better, and more sophisticated than the Eastern World, the divide becomes even less substantiated. For example, in our age (2008), do you know what the biggest airline in the world is? Most people from North America might saw American Airlines, or US Airlines. BUT, an airline company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), called Air Emirates is actually the biggest airline company in the world. Another fun fact, what would say is the most technologically advanced country? Probably the United States, right? Well you would be wrong, because it is actually South Korea. It has the highest national IQ of any country in the world, and 95% of all people in South Korea are connected to Broadband internet (stats found on . The US on the other side of the coin, has 83% of the population connected to Broadband internet (stats found on

So if you really think about it, are Americans really different from Chinese? or Koreans? Americans, for instance, may not have the same customs, or social practices, or look exactly the same, but underneath it all we still strive for the same basic things: food, shelter, security, acceptance, etc. ALSO, are we (Western civilizations) any better than other civilizations? I would venture that we are not. Just because we may have different customs, as I pointed out earlier, doesn't make one better than the other. We are all a part of this crazy ecosystem we like to call Earth, and I think it is about time that we found a way to coincide with each other without divisions.


D said...

I have noticed that, we are pack animals. But we are talking about wolf packs here in a way and they fight each other for terrain and food, etc. But they're all wolves, you say? We are Montagues and Capulets--But they were all Italians, you say? How about other separations?? On my blog we segregated out a guy because he had been a jerk. Read about it: Just Like High School