Taking Sides

by: Jonathan Zoeteman

I've begun to notice this trend. This thing we do as humans. I haven't quite figured out if it's a universal human trait, but in the so-called "western world" we sure seem to have it. 

It's this strange pre-disposition to take sides. We do it in politics (right vs. left, Republican vs. Democrat, Liberal vs. Conservative), we do it in our relationships, we do it in our consumerism (Apple vs. Samsung, Xbox vs. PS4), we do it in so many different ways. We are always taking sides. Always finding reasons why someone else is wrong and we're right. Why Justin Beiber sucks or why some UK boy band is the greatest thing ever. We're quick to talk over others, quick to jump in with our two cents. To put it simply, we're pretty good at being "right". 

As a culture we waste a lot of energy on being "right". It's no wonder we live in a world where we are growing increasingly less trusting of all the messages being cast our way from a myriad of sources. It's no wonder people are fed up with politics, with religion, with the constant antagonism. And yet, as sick of it all as we are, we come back to it. We take those sides. We quarrel and argue why we're right and they're wrong. Why our "side" is the good side. Why for some reason we're better than them. (It's okay, I know you've never done this, I'm just speaking for myself and a bunch of other people I've observed.)

Why do we do this? Why do we deep down hate this whole us vs. them thing, and yet find ourselves participating in it?

Why? To belong. 

This is the real universal human trait at play here. This uncanny desire to belong. 

I believe that's what we really want. That's what's behind the sides we take. And yes, I understand that there are ideological, moral, cultural, historical, and many more "al" reasons why we do choose to take certain sides. And that's not really what this is about. This is about how we've been trying to belong. I'd like to suggest that we can have different ideas, different political stances, different backgrounds, different opinions, and still "belong" together. That "belonging" is bigger than one of those "sides".

Bob Goff is someone who inspires me, and I've heard him say it in person, and in his book "Love Does" that everyone should pick a fight. 

I think this is part of the solution to our problem. If we start picking more fights instead of taking sides we might be amazed at the stuff that happens. I think there are some pretty major "fights" in the world that most of us can agree are worth fighting. Things like poverty, human trafficking, education deficiencies, water shortages, curable diseases, homelessness, depression, and the list goes on and on. I can guarantee you there are fights waiting for you in the place you live. What would happen if we all focused less on being "right" and instead put our energy into picking fights together regardless of whether we agree on everything. 

What if we chose to make love our priority. It's been written that God is love. I've always loved that. When we pick fights, when we stand up for something or someone, when we love unconditionally, I believe we start to live what we were created to be. When we do it together, it's at those moments when I think we start to realize what belonging can really look like.