Good Omens Question #8 ~ Us vs. Them

by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Good Omens Question #8 ~ Us vs. Them

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:35 am

Pg. 289 (paperback) 291 (hardback). The Them are discussing what the world would be like without their rival gang the Johnsonites.

’I dunno,’ said Pepper. ‘I mean it wouldn’t be so interesting without ole Greasy Johnson and his gang. When you think about it. We’ve had a lot of fun with ole Greasy Johnson and the Johnsonites. We’d probably have to find some other gang or something.”

Is it human nature to need an enemy?
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Unread postby stroch » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:59 am

I think so -- or at least to define yourself by what you are not, since it is so hard to get a fix on what you are.

I read a long study of children's games around the world, all remarkaly similar, and following similar developmental patterns everywhere.

Many involve exclusion, of individuals or of groups of other kids. The author suggested a method of playing one game where everyone could participate, and the kids scornfully told her that the whole point of the game was keeping others out. :-/
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:51 am

Interesting about the study of childrens games. I think having a common enemy brings people together. It gives them a way to bond and to make themselves fee superior. Sad but true... :-/
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Re: Good Omens Question #8 ~ Us vs. Them

Unread postby luvdepp » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:20 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Is it human nature to need an enemy?


I think it is. I think as a group, people need to feel superior and competitive over someone else. Unfortunately, it moves from children's games to holy wars.
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Unread postby Raven » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:34 am

Morning ladies,

I am here in the foggy cold Oregon coast, trying to catchup.

I think that when you are insecure it is easy for you to exclude others, it makes you feel better and superior (SP?). When you are secure in your position, life, love, etc. You can give, include and accept others people and their ideas. One reason I think Johnny is so centered, he is secure now.


just my :twocents:

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:46 am

Hi Raven. :wave: I see you found a bookstore. Sorry it is cold and foggy.

I also think that prejudice and fear are behind exclusion.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:47 am

Here goes Pollyanna again... I agree with Raven that those who are insecure need an enemy to pick on and feel superior to. With secure people I prefer to think that they may need an evil to hate and go after. I think that trying to fight injustice in any big or small place you find it gives life meaning, for instance.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:10 pm

That is an interesting point, Betty Sue. Depending on your outlook or circuumstances, not necessarily a person or people but an idea or an injustice. I don't think that is so Pollyanna at all, of course I have been called that myself more than once! :lol:

Raven, glad you found a bookstore :cool: and I hope that grumpy old man snaps out of it soon... :mad:

luvdepp, that is when it gets really scary...
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Re: Good Omens Question #8 ~ Us vs. Them

Unread postby Gypsylee » Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:12 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Is it human nature to need an enemy?


I have a hard time putting thoughts into words. My feeling is I don't know if its so much human nature to NEED an enemy as it is there are so many different ideas and opinions out there that it just sort of creates enemies. An intolerance to differences in each other. I don't think people start out wanting enemies, but would just like everyone to think like they do thus creating wars in different degrees.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:57 pm

stroch wrote:I think so -- or at least to define yourself by what you are not, since it is so hard to get a fix on what you are.

I read a long study of children's games around the world, all remarkaly similar, and following similar developmental patterns everywhere.

Many involve exclusion, of individuals or of groups of other kids. The author suggested a method of playing one game where everyone could participate, and the kids scornfully told her that the whole point of the game was keeping others out. :-/


Interesting that you pointed out that little kids who are really young exhibit this trait. It's hard to prove nature vs. nurture, but it's hard to argue against this being part of human nature when it's seen in children so young. It may be ancestral in our genetic makeup as part of survival of the fittest.
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Unread postby Endora » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:11 pm

QueenofKings wrote:
stroch wrote:I think so -- or at least to define yourself by what you are not, since it is so hard to get a fix on what you are.

I read a long study of children's games around the world, all remarkaly similar, and following similar developmental patterns everywhere.

Many involve exclusion, of individuals or of groups of other kids. The author suggested a method of playing one game where everyone could participate, and the kids scornfully told her that the whole point of the game was keeping others out. :-/


Interesting that you pointed out that little kids who are really young exhibit this trait. It's hard to prove nature vs. nurture, but it's hard to argue against this being part of human nature when it's seen in children so young. It may be ancestral in our genetic makeup as part of survival of the fittest.


Have you read The Selfish Gene, Queen? It points out exactly that: Altruism cannot exist, because humans are just a bi-product of DNAs need to continue its own replication.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:28 pm

Endora wrote:
QueenofKings wrote:
stroch wrote:I think so -- or at least to define yourself by what you are not, since it is so hard to get a fix on what you are.

I read a long study of children's games around the world, all remarkaly similar, and following similar developmental patterns everywhere.

Many involve exclusion, of individuals or of groups of other kids. The author suggested a method of playing one game where everyone could participate, and the kids scornfully told her that the whole point of the game was keeping others out. :-/


Interesting that you pointed out that little kids who are really young exhibit this trait. It's hard to prove nature vs. nurture, but it's hard to argue against this being part of human nature when it's seen in children so young. It may be ancestral in our genetic makeup as part of survival of the fittest.


Have you read The Selfish Gene, Queen? It points out exactly that: Altruism cannot exist, because humans are just a bi-product of DNAs need to continue its own replication.


I never heard of that book, but my Native American Healer is really big into that we carry our ancestral baggage around in our genetic makeup, stuff beyond if you have blue eyes or brown. But even genetic memories of large-scale pain or the need to flee our homes.
There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main... and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.

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Unread postby fansmom » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:08 pm

QueenofKings wrote:I never heard of that book, but my Native American Healer is really big into that we carry our ancestral baggage around in our genetic makeup, stuff beyond if you have blue eyes or brown. But even genetic memories of large-scale pain or the need to flee our homes.
Funny that you mention eye color, QofK. Are you familiar with Jane Elliott's 1968 project for her third-grade students? She was an Iowa schoolteacher, who, in the wake of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr, divided her all-white class by eye color--and the immediate prejudice they displayed was horrifying. Friends became instant enemies. Whether it's human nature or not, it's something we're really, really good at--unfortunately.

PBS's Frontline did a show about the Iowa third graders http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/

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Unread postby suec » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:12 pm

Interesting ideas here. I like the idea about it contributing to one's sense of identity. I also think some people thrive on a bit of confrontation. And there is a tendency towards the pack mentality sometimes, with some people wanting to conform, and others definitely not. I think people's concept and acceptance of the idea of community is quite limited. As soon as a group gets to be big enough, it sub-divides. I would guess that we are programmed that way, for survival: that it is instinctive to look after a small group around us that we have invested in, or where we all have similar needs and prioritises. Perhaps that is to do with the gene pool too. Only a few hundred years back, village life, with limited opportunities for travel, would have meant quite limited gene pools. But I think that it is a fundamental human need for many to belong to a group, that a sense of belonging is a very strong urge for some, and to some extent, at times, that is measured by who does not belong.

Another possible relevant point (or maybe not, come to think) is that as far as teenagers are concerned - and maybe older folk too - I have read that boys' groups tend to be hierarchical, whereas girls' ones tend to be more mutually supportive. On the other hand, I have seen females fighting to sort out the pecking order too. And that hierarchy encompasses who is in the group and who is not.

What I find interesting is the way that Crowley and Azirophale do spin off and form their own sub-group, based on mutual interests. Entirely human.

:eyebrow: Bit of a ramble there, I'm afraid. Late at night here and my brain is addled.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:24 pm

I had not thought of it as genetic, but you all make some good points. fansmom, I have heard of that Iowa study and thought it was very telling. I do know that we crave human companionship and the lack of it in children can be very destructive. Perhaps "grouping", for lack of a better word is part of the bonding process we need and prejudice and intolerance are byproducts of that need. Interesting dicussion today, ladies! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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