Divide and Conquer
This term, when used to describe such social constructs as race or religion, first hit home when it was used by my friend @WriterWriter. It’s a concept I was aware of before I had it was clearly defined in my mind. When a man says to you “this man is black”, he is telling you “this man is not white”. When he says “this man is a Muslim” he is telling you “this man is not a Christian”. These are the basics of semiology – when a label is placed on something, it is to separate it from what it is not.
When this man tells his white Christian friend about the black Muslim, he is forming an imaginary bond with the white Christian man that is based purely on the two of them being separated from the third man. This is usually done to strengthen the parties with ‘common interests’ and eliminate the one who is different. Such elementary behaviour is a problem amongst children in playgrounds everywhere, only in those cases we call it bullying.
To focus so much on what people are detracts from, well, what they are. They’re people, individuals unlike any other individual. For as long as there has been a ‘divide and conquer’ mindset, there has been war. Segregation, no matter how small, causes resentment within the individual being segregated, and with good reason. The point that is so often lost is that we’re all segregated from each other, that’s what being an individual means.
When someone comes to you and uses one of the many, many labels man has invented over time to attribute to an individual, it’s likely because he wants to alienate that person, with a view to recruiting you. When that happens, because it will, think about this.