Changing the “us” vs. “them” mentality

When it comes to finding solutions to common ills, there is no “them”; there’s only “us.”

That was the first thing my professor taught us in what came to be called his “Save the world” class. No policy, program, or path was viable if in solving one problem, it created another. And yet, so often it feels like the environment and economy are pitted in a battle to the death, where only one gets the winning policy. But how could these policy solutions truly solve anything, if they just end up hurting us more, in some other way? I believe that everything is connected and that the environment, economy, and equity are actually mutually reinforcing—meaning, we don’t have to sacrifice either one on the path of progress.

For example, industries make money off of pollution—meaning, the more they pollute, the more they make, the more they sell, and the more they earn. They often lobby for policies that benefit them, because sometimes reducing pollutants is an expensive ordeal. But win-win solutions do exist: Starting decades ago, the 3M Company reformulated products and redesigned manufacturing processes to eliminate more than 140,000 metric tons of solid and hazardous wastes, 4 billion liters of wastewater, and 80,000 metric tons of air pollution each year. Not only did these new processes help the environment, but they also saved 3M money by using less energy and fewer raw materials. I doubt that 3M would have been so enthused about helping the environment if it didn’t benefit them directly in some way as well. Still today, 3M is committed to its environmental goals, and it hasn’t sacrificed its profits on the way.

In this ripe time of fighting for policies, we need to keep in mind that no policy will be a true solution if it simply shifts the problems to another sector. These policies will simply come under harsh opposition. True solutions benefit everyone, and finding them may require working with people you’ve traditionally seen as the enemy. So change your thinking: the only “them” in these situations are the problems we face together.

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5 Responses to “Changing the “us” vs. “them” mentality”


  1. 1 WeallWEgood October 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    WE need to perform U aside and eliminate U and Us and onlWE have WE.

  2. 2 WeallWEgood October 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Please go to wesolution,org

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