Being an Outsider

In many cases on the podcasts we look at the idea of “us’ and ‘them’ as in are you one of us or one of them. Often in society we are saying do you belong, are you one of us. In this episode we turn it around and look at what happens when we are one of ‘them’ and not one of ‘us’? When you are an outsider standing outside of the group.

To be an outsider usually means that you are different or that you are seen as different. This may be negative in the form of prejudice. Perhaps you are disabled, disfigured, have a speech impediment, perhaps a relative has just been in prisoned for sexual impropriety or violent assault, something has happened that makes you become excluded from the home group.

It could also be positive exclusion, if such a thing exists. Perhaps you have just won the lotto, been made the manager of the team you worked in for many years, or been the only one in your university cohort to gain a first class honours degree.

To be an outsider you are doing or have done something different to the group. Now the group no longer identifies with you. You are now the outsider.

Currently the news is full of Rohingya people that have been expelled from Myanmar, or Burma as was. Whatever the politics and whatever the propaganda the message at some level from the people of Myanmar is “we do not want you, go away. You are not one of ‘us’ you are one of ‘them’. You are outsiders and we no longer want you in our country, to go outside”.

The popularised fuel of the whole Brexit debate was around can we allow these outsiders, these refugees, to become one of us? Will we accept them and allow them in? This then raised the question, do we want to stay with the group of Europe.

Bring on the referendum
The issue seemed to culminate in the British desire, well 52% at least wanting to become outsiders. The expressed desire to no longer be one of ‘us’, of the European Community and become ‘them’ and find our own route outside of the larger community. We have voted to become outsiders, to be one of ‘them’ and no longer one of ‘us’.

Have you ever felt like an outsider?

As I have travelled I have, on many occasions, been the only white person in the room, or the only Brit or in Wales the only English person. My difference was sometimes seen as a handicap as in ‘you bloody limeys’. There were times when I was called ‘honky’ or ‘ghost’. On the other side people wanted to speak English with me and practise their use of the language. I also had very blond and very curly hair that people, especially in Asia, wanted to touch and feel. I was even asked for a lock a couple of times! I know a man who was the tallest man in the UK for a while. He found that when he visited China, which he had to do as part of his job, it became impossible because the locals want to be photographed standing beside him. When it came to the point where he couldn’t leave his hotel because crowds of people were waiting for him to get photographed he decided to call it a day and stopped going there.

Are we all Earthling
In many ways this weeks topic follows on from last week when we discussed Veganism with Jodie. To be a vegan means to stand outside the normal culture of the country and the economy. At the same time to eat an animal requires that at some levels we see that animal as different or less than our fellow humans. If we see humans as a part or our group then to eat them is unthinkable. If we see animal as a part of our group then to eat them is unthinkable.

I mentioned in that podcast, and put them up as my resources, the films Schindler’s List and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Both these films describe what happens when we separate a group and make them outsiders. For the Nazis to treat the Jewish people the way that they did required for them to dehumanise the Jews, to exclude them from the group of humanity and make them outsiders who had no human rights and were treated as they treated their animals. The same thing happened in Africa when untold millions were sold into slavery by Europe and America.

The Trump effect
To create a group there has to be normalised ideas, beliefs and behaviours. This is true of a football crowd, a bunch of girls who regularly go out on the jolly, the Mafia gang, a stamp collecting club, the list becomes endless. Once someone stands up and proposes something, they raise their standard, others will begin to gather around that standard and the new group is formed. Once that group is formed there is inside and outside and everyone now has to make a decision, are you in or out. Their will be consequences which way you decide to go, that is the nature of life.

The trick is propaganda. How do we get people to join our cause and take on our beliefs? We use the media. Could be fake news could be real news, could be newspapers and television or radio news. It could be social media or even gossip and the rumour mill.

Once someone like Trump plants his flag and others with the same views begin to gather around him the propaganda machine sets off. The more people that gather the greater the power of the group. The greater the power of the group, the greater the effect that they can have on the outsiders.

Once the Farage and the Brexit band wagon rolled into town the propaganda machine went into action and people started to join it and hey ho, we are out of Europe. The exercise of power is wonderful to study, though terrible for the victims. We should do a podcast on power.

Ok, I’ll climb off my soap box and leave you with this.

The groups that you identify with and belong to will either be positive with outsiders and may, in many ways be looking to create a greater understanding between groups. Or, the group that you are associated with are about increasing the sense of difference between groups of people and not at looking to empathise or understand. You have a choice and your choices are consequential.

Perhaps inviting someone that you see as an outsider in for tea might help humanise humanity.

Take care and be happy

Sean x