Outsiders to Everyone


After reading “Psychological Concepts Of “The Other:” Embracing The Compass Of The Self” by Steve Olweean, the idea of everyone other than you changes. I felt how true it was as I looked through and saw many ways that it connected to the four books I read.

Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. How a young boy survives a ship wreck on a lifeboat… with a Bengal tiger on board. How can he overcome this fear feet away from him to stay alive? By removing the “other.”

Tigers are dangerous animals, and so Pi begins with thinking of ways to get rid of Richard Parker. “To maintain validity as the “good guys” in a conflict …and to instead prove the Other worse by comparison” (Olweean 2), for Pi never thinks of reasons that Richard Parker might want to get rid of him since Pi is the “good guy” here. It is not until the end that he realizes that he would rather be together with this massive killer than to be alone, because we are not all that different once we break the barrier of fearing one another.

From a different perspective, there is the story of Marjane in Persepolis and Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi herself. She expresses what life is like in Tehran and Europe during the Islamic Revolution, showing how her people were victimized against the Shah placed in power, as directly stated in Olweean’s article. He describes it as the Self Fulfilling Prophecy, “Taking on the identity of “victim” places us in the role of someone “wronged,” who deserves justice, and allows for a self-righteous perspective…” (Olweean 2), as many people in Iran were called martyrs for fighting. When Marjane returned to Tehran after living in Vienna, Austria, she noticed that almost all of the street signs were renamed after martyrs. In doing so, the people of Iran were showing that they deserve more than death from being the victim of this “other.”

In The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, it focuses on how Pooh finds solutions to his problems by figuring them out in his own way, without trying too hard to see it. Hoff is trying to teach the general concepts of Taoism through a well known character. Much of how Pooh fixes dilemmas is part of our subconscious, as Hoff states in the end that we all have an Owl, Rabbit, Eeyore, and Pooh in us. Normally, we follow the ways of Rabbit and Owl, cleverness and wisdom, but do not find the solution we are looking for. “Unconscious beliefs held collectively are the most fundamental cause of the global dilemmas that beset the world, and thus a major contributor to non-peace” (Olweean 1), quoted from Willis Harman. These results we witness come from ourselves, choosing the option that is not from Pooh. Maybe, if we do no try so hard to be right above everyone else, we will find the answers we are looking for.

Once we learn to accept each other for who we are and become more familiar, we can understand better and remove the term “others.” Only then can we stop separating and considering ourselves the good guys or victims. By listening to our subconscious, this is obtainable and can bring us, as humans, together.

There is no “other.” There is only unique.


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