It’s a pleasant afternoon out here in the Midwest with a glass of bourbon and The Dark Side of the Moon playing. Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” is a sincere and understated piece concerning war. One of the aspects of the song that always resonates with me is the subtle use of pronouns to dehumanize one’s enemy (I could also go on about the use of prepositions but that’s a topic for another time). “Us and Them” shows us how easy it is to unperson those we don’t like, or those we are told not to like.
The line “…It’s a battle of words?” shows the audience that pronouns are used to dehumanize and unify. By using words such as us, them, you, and me it is easy to dehumanize the opposition, and these same words are used to create unity, a collective spirit, for those on the other side. Propaganda runs deep through the song showing it’s easy (too easy, so easy it’s kind of scary) to convince people to march and die at the whims of generals or for anybody who holds a position of power or importance.
The talking heads on the news (I use term news with serious reservations) and other various media outlets revel in throwing around labels and pronouns these days. Before you step inside to chat with the man with the gun, ask yourself who they are and who you are (more importantly who you want to be and do they want you to be somebody different)?