The Outsiders

I’ll start this off with something I once actually heard someone say; “We want him inside the tent with us not outside the tent pissing in”. Whilst this may be “management” speak, it refers to a slight problem and that is how to deal with an “outsider”. If you are in the tent, then anyone outside the tent is suspect, but not everyone likes tents.

Society as a whole has a very mixed view on outsiders. On the one hand they are strange creatures, to be pitied and ridiculed, maybe even hunted down and destroyed. On the other hand, they are evocative, mysterious and able to do things that “normal” folk cannot. The strange gunman who drifts in off the high plains, the tortured genius who comes up with a solution despite societal prejudice against him, the freedom fighter who starts a revolution from his prison cell. Outsiders are strangely, hero and villain at one and the same time. And many a teenager has felt sometimes an alien in his or her own world.

Anyone who has the temerity to question the status quo runs the risk of being alienated and excluded; maybe even having the dogs sent after them. They are OK so long as they are solving some crisis but after that they can fuck right off, so that normal folk can get back to their normal sociopolitical conniving. Once the hired gun has killed the corrupt sheriff, the townsfolk seek to do away with him. The outsider becomes the hunted, the mob once welcoming turns nasty and upon him once his usefulness is over.

The townsfolk never consider that tracking down the outsider, ganging up on him, and hunting him down, is in fact bullying. They may even assume that this method might endear themselves with him, because after all how he could possibly not want to be “in the tent” so to speak. The townsfolk are not very self-aware. After a crisis has passed the townsfolk want to restore their social order and not have their power structures threatened so at best, they seek to jettison the outsider like a used condom. Maybe they try to assimilate the outsider but that would be too risky, too unpredictable.

Human society has double standards.

Having cued this up, a simple question:

With whom do I empathise, the townsfolk or the outsider?