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Us and Them

by Alejandra Sada

For the first time in 1973, during 7 minutes and 51 seconds, Pink Floyd’s lead vocalist sang along jazz infused chord progressions about war and human nature; a timeless piece that will be heard by many future generations to come. At around 1 minute and 42 seconds, David Gilmour sang, “Us and them, and after all we’re only ordinary men,” and even though no one can perform lyrically like the former it is master musician Roger Waters who we have to thank for such deep and touching poetry. Waters, born in 1943 can be considered a child of war, having at the tender age of five months, lost his father during the Battle of Anzio in Aprilia. Being raised in a post war, Men depleted English society, growing up without a father and through the efforts of a single mother were mayor influences in Waters’ creative output, the basis of his work as Pink Floyd’s creative director, his current ideas and activism. I was introduced to the band’s work at a very young age by my own father and since then have felt deeply influenced by all their forms of expression. That is why I chose their song for this month’s article to illustrate and elaborate on war. Not the kind that involves trenches and cross fire but that of the heart. The war of the heart. 

The war of the heart is real and ever present in our lives almost like a part of human nature. It’s easy to say, post and hashtag the phrase, “make love, not war” because we’re not physically involved in military conflict but we forget about an ongoing battle that takes place closer than we imagine: inside the heart. If we’re not constantly at war with one another we are frequently at it with ourselves. We blame the players but glorify the game. As free thinkers we become easily biased and feel entitled to question, judge and bash ideas that are not our own. But Waters cleverly wrote, “God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do,” because true human nature is geared toward peace and harmony. It is the game that has been spoiled, crooked and corrupted and we as players have gone beyond -us and them- and into the realm of -us VERSUS them-. 

Understanding war as a military event provides great insight into the heart’s conflict prone tendencies. Most wars have sprung from an idea or the clash of opposite and different ideologies. War is born from nothing but a mere spoken thought that seeds fear in diversely minded individuals. But unlike military conflict, the war of the heart does not need a winning side in order to cease. Tolerance and coexistence is all that’s needed to thrive peacefully among others. Ideas and opinions different than our own don’t have to be accepted but rather respected. As Waters metaphorically stated “Up and down, and in the end it’s only round n’ round,” meaning everything we perceive is only a version of truth based on our own experience. Embracing diversity is our most trusted ally in resolving conflict non violently. 

This month of February, commemorate and celebrate love and friendship based on tolerance and respect. Do so not only with close acquaintances but with every other human being. Take charge and start showing initiative with those you disagree with by reframing the reasons for this. Replace disagreement with misunderstanding; perhaps the reason you can’t relate to different ideas is because you do not understand them. To conclude my case about war some last words from the -Us and Them- song, “With, without… and who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about”. Yup, we can’t deny all the fighting is about different points of view. Find comfort in the fact that you share something with even the most opposite minded individual: you belong to the same species! Celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and friendship not only on the 14th day of the month but all year round. 

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