If you were a fan of the hit show Lost then you’re familiar with ‘The Others”. The ‘Others’ were the group of people who lived on the other side of the island. ‘The Others’ were the enemy, the terrorist. The strange thing is that to both groups of people living on opposite ends of the island, the people on the other side of the island were ‘The Others’.
When we label people as ‘ist’ – racist, sexist, capitalist, etc., we make them ‘The Others’ and push them to the other side of the island, set them as our enemies, and stall conversations that might prove useful.
Seth Godin makes an excellent observation when he writes it’s far more useful to start by identifying, and discussing with ‘The Others’ the behavior that’s counter productive. To that I’d add combine talking, with meaningful action, and you have a chance at lasting change.
When Dr. King spoke of his vision for America that black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles would one day sit down together at the table of brotherhood he was calling all of ‘The Others’ together.
Being slow to speak, particularly when it comes to labeling people as some type of ‘ist’ is wise because the truth is we are all some sort of ‘ist’. As long as there are ‘The Others’ we are limited in moving forward together.