Marti received an “Us” magazine in the mail a couple of days ago. I haven’t talked to her about this yet, but I’m sure it wasn’t something she chose. We’ve gotten caught in a few of those magazine subscription schemes. Usually it involves an inner-city kid who is trying to work his/her way out of the economic depression of the ghetto. Impressed by their congeniality and their ambitious goals, we help them out with a small donation and suddenly the next week we receive 14 magazines we don’t remember ordering. (A slight exaggeration, but you get the point.)
It’s just that I am certain that Marti would not have intentionally ordered “Us” magazine. “Us” is one step above a tabloid, if that. These are the self-serving star magazines that grace the checkout stands at major supermarkets and bottom-feed on the sordid details of the rich and famous. A little more respectable, there is now “People,” then there was “Us,” and when we received “Us” in the mail, I got an idea. How about a “Them” magazine? I looked it up to see if there was one and found “Them” was a fashion magazine from Japan that launched in 2014, and “them” was an LGBTQ internet platform. Those two aside, however, I’d like us to think for a minute about our own “Them” magazine. Do you own a “Them” magazine?
Why would a “Them” magazine be important to think about? It might help us identify how we think about people. Do we put people into categories? Do we separate ourselves from humanity in any way? Does anyone make us feel uncomfortable? For instance, I am more of a racist than I let on that I am. I like to think I’m colorblind, but I’m very aware of someone’s color.
If you had your own “Them” magazine, who would it be about? What people groups, races, religions, ages, social statuses, political parties, or sexual orientations make up “them” to you? Are homeless people who hold out signs at street corners “them?” to you? Who else?
How do you change a “them” to an “us?” This one is easy. You find out someone’s name and get to know them. That’s when someone ceases to be a “them,” and becomes simply one of us. And that’s what we want: less of them and more of us.