“Us/Them” Mentality

“If you’re such a tight part of a certain community, you are more likely to see everyone else as the other.”

Transcript for “Us/Them” Mentality

I consider my home country to be the Netherlands. I grew up in what we call a row-house: it’s basically a street where all the houses are connected into one construction. I’ve lived there my entire life. My neighborhood I would call pretty safe but not very eventful. There weren’t a lot of kids my age. And, I think on a general note, I think I can say that people in the Netherlands are pretty to themselves. I know my neighbors, I know who they are, but it’s not like we do a lot of community events or just anything related to community. You know you wave to each other when you see each other get in the car.

There’s exceptions–I think the most neighborly or community thing we’ve had was last time there was a soccer championship. I don’t remember if it was–I think it was the world championship in Brazil. And our neighbors (with the five kids) had like a street watching party and that was really fun. And like, for one second I thought maybe, you know, there is more of a community here or more of an actual like hanging out together, but I guess that was just the one time that sports brought us together or something like that. 

I just realized that we don’t have clubs in high school. If you participate in a sport, everything is basically extracurricular. American high school movies always have these like groups and clubs and gangs and whatever and even though they’re still like social separations between nerds or very popular kids, I guess there is not as much of a oh like, jocks, or the music people, or the theater kids or something. And I think that that’s really interesting. I guess the only thing that forms communities is the sport club that you’re a part of in the Netherlands.

This year I had another realization about how in the Netherlands there’s less of a like smaller community feeling whereas in the US there’s a lot of smaller, tighter communities. But this also causes it to be a lot easier in the US to have an ‘us’ ‘them’ mentality. If you’re such a tight part of a certain community, you are more likely to see everyone else as the other whereas in the Netherlands where you’re just a Dutch citizen, you know, there’s still distinctions between if you’re just Dutch or an immigrant or what not. Those are still problems. But there’s less tiny communities that feel different from the rest. Even in politics, we have a multi-party system in the Netherlands, so it’s less of a, you know, left or right kind of thing. Again, less of a ‘us’ ‘them’ mentality and more of a I’m part of this and you’re part of that and you’re part of that.

I’m trying to think of a good example, because I feel like it goes through so many layers and in so many different situations–it’s kind of visible everywhere. The Netherlands is a pretty secular country. So like, it’s not normal to just affiliate with any religion and also not decide between atheist, agnostic or anything just, you know, nothing. And so a lot of people were like, “Oh yeah,” you know, “America is obviously more religious. Are you sure you want to go to, like, a specifically private, religious university?” Will I fit in if I’m like the only one that’s just like – that doesn’t have a religion? And then I came here, and it turned out that it didn’t matter at all, and they have plenty of different religions here.

I’ll just refer back to that stronger sense of community causing a more stronger sense of ‘us’ ‘them’ that I don’t necessarily feel in the Netherlands even though you can also say there’s just less of community in the Netherlands… unless there’s soccer. Then there’s a community in the Netherlands.

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