Us Versus Them

(Image copyright L Wilson, 2009)

I randomly came across this article on It describes "innumeracy" or a lack of knowledge of basic mathematics. The author claims this is a primary reason of the recent economic troubles...people honestly not understanding the adjustable rate mortgage or the pitfalls of having 30% APR on a credit card.

I'm not writing to debate the causes of America's economic troubles. Nor am I writing to discuss whether Americans are mathematically knowledgeable as a whole.

It was the comment section at the end that truly sparked my interest.

As with many other online news sources, people can leave comments that are basically left to self-moderation (save for threatening or "inappropriate" language). This almost always leads to a debate (or argument) between several readers. The debate very frequently veers from the topic of the article, turning instead into personal attacks.

This was where a red flag was raised, at least in my eyes.

The "Us Versus Them" mentality.

"We" can do basic math and can't believe "They" can't even calculate a tip.
"We" aren't that good at math, but "They" aren't teaching it right.
"We" know what's best - "They" are "big stupid lumbering morons".
"We" may be ignorant but could still kick "Their" butts.

Get the idea?

In actuality,

We are all afraid.
We are all powerful.
We are all ignorant, some in mathematics, some in other areas.
We are all wiser than we think we are.

Every single member of "Them" is in some way an "Us".

It would be far more beneficial to look for how we are all, well, US then trying to fight THEM. Celebrate differences, that we aren't all identical (how boring!), that we have issues to debate and explore, that we have such a broad range of life to recognize in other humans, animals, stones, etc. Never forget, though, that we are all in this together.

Lisa Wilson3 Comments