US / THEM

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Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher
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A boundary is a place where identities – personal, local, ethnic, or national – are assembled and decomposed. An individual functions as an individual in their own society in relation to others. They belong to different communities determined by the experience and context of the community in which they grow up, its rules and laws. A person’s life cycle is marked by belonging to numerous groups, it is based on different foundations, altogether building their Me / Us identity as opposed to (S)he / Them.

Boundaries between two or more cultures are a potential place of merging, but also of separation when they become a point of potential conflict. These boundaries are not always clearly visible, they are fluid and depend on migratory influences and political pretensions.

Life cycles and spiritual rites

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Life without principle is like a ship without a rudder.

Mahatma Gandhi
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A person’s life cycle is marked by rituals and ritual crossing of social borders all the way from early childhood, through adulthood, to their final departure. Christianity, as the dominant religion in our area, has largely divided this cycle with various sacraments – from baptism as the initial entry into the Christian community, through the first communion and confirmation, which represent further steps in maturation, to last rites as the final transition into the afterlife. Each religion segments its life cycle in a specific way, according to religious practices and rituals. Such patterns, common to all cultures, represent a kind of grouping, a demarcation from the others, in this case based on religion.

For better or worse?

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Any good marriage is secret territory, a necessary white space on society's map. What others do not know about it is what makes it yours.

Stephen King, writer
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Saying the mutual “I do” introduces a new dimension into our lives, conditionally shifting and changing the boundaries of our freedom. We cross this border voluntarily and with great hope for a happy future together. By crossing this imaginary social border, we create a new common “territory”, a common area of ​​coexistence which we “manage” for mutual benefit.

Whether it is a traditional white wedding or a marriage ceremony concluded in Las Vegas with “Elvis Presley” as a witness, regardless of whether the act takes place according to church or secular laws, whether it is a wedding between people of the opposite sex or the conclusion of a same-sex partnership, all obligations and decisions arising from that act are identical. By accepting them, we push social boundaries and support the personal freedom of others and their right to choose.

Family

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All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

L. N. Tolstoy, writer
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Is a family a group of people related by blood and inheritance? Or is it a group of people connected by mutual love?

Throughout history family was more often associated with economic well-being, while today it is primarily based on emotional ties. From archaeological populations, when people lived in large communities, to the modern age when nuclear families are developed and being single is more common, family should ideally be a refuge from all the troubles that befall us in the “outside” world. It should create a secure boundary for us and protect us. But is that always the case?

The Rainbow Family Association, which helps LGBTIQ couples and individuals who have or want to have children, published the picture book “My Rainbow Family” in 2018. The picture book shows children with same-sex parents in Croatia, and its goal is to strengthen the social integration of children who have same-sex parents and to promote tolerance and respect for diversity. This year the picture book got its sequel: „My Rainbow Family’s Fun Day Out.“

You are what you wear?

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Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.

Marc Jacobs, fashion designer
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Clothes serve more than just the function of satisfying a person’s basic need to protect their body from the weather and the looks of other people, more than a reflection of the wearer’s taste. It is the boundary between our body and the environment, but also one of the elements that makes us different from others. That Other is not necessarily “someone somewhere far away.” It can be someone who partly shares our own culture, and yet is different from us. The way we dress is always a clear indicator of social affiliation: it reflects our personality, our social status and belonging to a certain generation or subculture.

From Me to Us

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He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.

Aristotle, philosopher
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Different roles alternate throughout a person’s lifetime, depending on age and one’s own preferences, and sometimes conditioned by social and political norms. Thus, we become members of various associations and organizations, even virtual ones, and we acquire various rights and obligations. Membership sometimes means privileged social status and enables something that non-members do not have access to or have difficulty accessing. Membership determines where “Me” belongs, what it can access, what privileges it can use, and where it becomes “Us”.

Perception of us / Perception of Others

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To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.

Aldous Huxley, writer and philosopher
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How do others perceive us and how do we perceive others? Can that image be completely objective or is it influenced by prejudice and fear of the unknown and different? Belonging to a community conditions our image of the Other as well as the Other’s image about us. Sometimes it is positive, sometimes it is not, but it is always conditioned by the social norms of the observer in relation to the one they are observing.

What we do not know, what is “on the other side of the boundary”, often causes fear and creates unrealistic expectations, as evidenced by travelogues, vivid sources that speak of the clash between the expected and the experienced.

Ultimately, the question arises: how do we see ourselves and how do we present ourselves to the Other?

Others

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I've now lived long enough to understand that difference breeds hatred.

Marie-Henri Beyle Stendhal, novel writer
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Other and different people do not necessarily have to be unfamiliar and distant. They can also be members of our community, group, or individuals that we fear or avoid. They are often, temporarily or permanently, excluded or marginalized members of the community – the sick, the disabled, the poor, members of minorities, exiles or those whose actions, behaviour or appearance we consider unacceptable. The marginalization of such people is still present today, which makes them the most vulnerable part of modern society and those who need help the most.

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